Haven for coffee and comfort food lovers: Little Owl Cafe, New Manila

Hidden away in New Manila is a haven for lovers of coffee and comfort food.

Renovated from one of the previously worn-down houses along Broadway Avenue, Little Owl Cafe is nestled among lush greenery. Started as a coffee shop but now a full service cafe, it serves food that features a fusion of Italian and Asian cuisines that professionals working in the area or families residing nearby can enjoy.

I was recently invited to a Blogger’s Dinner at this restaurant where I was able to sample some of its delectable offerings:

Omelette Chorizo Rice (Php270). Part of the resto’s All-Day Breakfast Menu, it consists of homemade longganisa rice, delicately wrapped in a thin omelette and topped with onion gravy and aioli.

Sisig Tacos (Php210). Three pieces of soft-shell tacos topped with crispy sisig and a savory liver aioli sauce. A great start to the meal!

Glazed Cauliflower (Php210). Cauliflower covered in a sweet and spicy soy glaze then deep-fried to crispiness. A great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!

Truffle Mushroom Pasta (Php350). Al dente noodles tossed in a rich homemade mushroom sauce made with three different kinds of mushrooms – shiitake, enoki and shimeji – topped with fried enoki and drizzled with truffle oil.

Shrimp & Aligue Pasta (Php330). Pasta noodles tossed in a creamy tomato sauce incorporating shrimp aligue and served with plump grilled shrimps.

Beef Tapa & Cheese Sandwich (Php295). A Pinoy take on the Philly Cheesesteak which showcases savory slivers of beef tapa, it is accompanied by a hefty serving of crisp shoestring fries.

Chicken & Waffle (Php270). Chicken thighs covered in batter then fried to a crisp then served with sriracha coleslaw over cheddar waffles.

Lechon Kawali Bibimbap (Php320). The classic sweet-spicy Korean fried rice served with sauteed mushrooms and spinach accompanied by deep fried pork belly and fried egg. A great combination of Pinoy and Korean flavors!

Chicken Satay (Php280). A bowl of Indonesian- inspired fried rice served with grilled chicken thigh and its trademark peanut sauce.

Beef Rendang (Php420). Tenderchuck slow-cooked in aromatic spices and coconut cream. A little too spicy for me but a sure winner for those who like their food with lots of kick!

Kimchi Salmon Sinigang (Php420). Salmon belly and loin seared then served in a spicy and sour soup.

Iced Mocha (Php170). A rich yet refreshing blend of chocolate and coffee flavors, it is among the Toby’s Estate beverages served in this restaurant.

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Pink Owl (Php180). A fruity cocktail of vodka, lychee, watermelon and mint. A suitable drink to chase away the workday stress.

Little Owl Cafe’s food offerings provide its diners with an adventurous break from the everyday meals but with enough familiar flavors to make them appealing to those with more conservative tastebuds.

Its premises are well-appointed, tastefully furnished and prettily lit, great backgrounds for foodie shots and group photos.

Since this resto is conveniently located a short distance from my workplace, I definitely can drop by again for dinner with friends after office hours.

Little Owl Cafe is located at 65 Broadway Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am to 10pm and Sundays from 8am to 9pm. For inquiries, call + 63 917 8181468 or +63 2 5012036.

Little Owl also accepts bookings for special events such as weddings, birthdays, holiday parties, press conferences and more, with function rooms that can be reserved for a minimum consumable amount.

Little Owl Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, 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.

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.

Solo lunch adventure at BTW Fil-Mex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

I availed of a Metrodeal offer that gave me a substantial discount on the dine-in food offerings of BTW Fil-Mex Kitchen.  Thus, I found myself walking the short distance from my office to this relatively newly opened resto along Mother Ignacia Street in Quezon City.

BTW stands for Burritos, Tacos and Wraps which sum up the resto’s menu. It Fil-Mex offerings include Burritos in bowls and wraps, Nachos, Quesadillas and Tacos, with some desserts and beverages thrown in.

It has a hole-in-the-wall kind of feel that would appeal to the younger crowd: an inviting facade, bright colorful interiors (with lots of natural light, perfect for photo opps and foodie shots) and relatively affordable fare.  Older fogies like me would have some issue with the restaurant’s entrance which is a bit too high off the ground (and is definitely not wheelchair-friendly).

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

The lone server (whose name is Jonathan) gamely set about helping me with my order.  The challenge is to fit an entire meal into the Php200 purchase amount covered by the Metrodeal voucher. We ended up with:

Beef Taco (Php170). Ground beef mixed with crisp vegetables and mexican sauces topped with cheese served over two soft taco shells (Note: hard taco shells were not available when I was there). It was served with a side of cheese-topped marble potatoes and some piccadillo. The serving was quite large, and since piccadillo helped provide some zesty counter to the strong flavors of the Mexican sauces in the taco.

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

Lechelatin (Php40). It’s a milk drink that even Jonathan had trouble describing to me. It has some clumps of small sago pearls at the bottom and is topped by what appears to be Rocky Road Ice Cream.

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

BTW Filmex Kitchen, Tomas Morato

The tacos are ok – there is a fine blend of flavors among the beef, the veggies and the Mexican sauce.

Lechalatin, however, is problematic for me.  It does not support the Fil-Mex proposition of the resto despite its name and execution may have been a bit hard for a lone server-slash-cook to achieve well.

I would prefer a more traditional Mexican-style chocolate beverage using the Filipino batirol to stay in keeping with the Fil-Mex theme than a confused amalgamation of disparate influences such as the Lechalatin.

Just my 2 cents. 🙂

Oh, and kudos to Jonathan for the great service!

BTW Fil-Mex Kitchen is located at 113 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Bgy. South Triangle, Quezon City.  It accepts delivery requests via SMS to nearby offices and residence through the numbers +63 966 6880494 or +63 999 9092008.  Queries may also be sent to the email happyburrito.btw@gmail.com.

It also delivers via Honestbee.  Register using this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.

BTW Fil-Mex Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of similar restaurants:

This post contains affiliate links.

Learn more about Latin American cuisine with these books on Amazon.com!

DIY Taco Bar at Encima Roofdeck Restaurant, Makati

The appeal of Tex-Mex cuisine for me is the interplay of the fresh and tangy flavors of citrus, tomatoes and onions with the earthy and hearty fullness of its meat dishes.

Tex-Mex cuisine is front and center at City Garden Hotel’s Encima Roofdeck Restaurant with its first anniversary offering. I was invited, along with fellow bloggers, to experience Encima’s Taco Bar, which will be launched to the public on July 2.

Encima Roofdeck Restaurant has come a long way from its beginnings as a mere alternative to the hotel’s bistro downstairs, carving out its identity, adopting the name Encima (meaning “above”). The roofdeck resto does live up to its name, giving its diners a spectacular view of the Makati skyline and the city lights.

According to City Garden Hotel’s PR and Marketing Manager, Jo Ruales, the roofdeck restaurant’s Tex-Mex Menu was developed by the hotel’s powerhouse chefs: Chefs Mario Basig, J-Ann Fernandez and Dennis Peralta. Rinna Reyes, the hotel’s F&B Manager proudly shared the resto’s Tex-Mex offerings were hailed by the cities of Makati and Manila as one of the best in the country.

The twist to Encima’s Taco Bar is in giving the guests free rein to create their taco however they want. For only Php499, diners can mix and match from the ingredients found in the bar: crisp and soft tacos; a richly-flavored Mexican Rice; beef, pork and chicken filling; grated cheese and cheese sauce, chopped onions and tomatoes, and a host of other ingredients you can add to your heart’s content.

This unlimited do-it-yourself taco bar comes with bottomless margarita and sangria, two of the restaurant’s most popular drinks.

For non-drinkers like me, the resto also offers non-alcoholic drinks like the fresh mango shake they served me.

The Taco Bar will be open every night from July 2 to August 5.

The restaurant also has a happy hour from 4pm to 8pm wherein shooters are served for only Php50 and cocktails at Php99. Beers are also paired with Tex-Mex sampler plates.

Encima Roofdeck Restaurant is located at City Garden Hotel, 7870 Durban Street corner Makati Avenue, Poblacion, Makati. For reservations, call +63 2 899 1111.

Disclosure: Together with other bloggers, I was invited to attend a Thanksgiving Dinner 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.

Encima Roofdeck Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of restos offering Mexican food:

The Max’s Group brings All You Can Wednesdays this June

Take your fill of all your favorite food this June with the Max’s Group’s All You Can Wednesdays promo.

The largest casual dining restaurant group in the Philippines, the Max’s Group will have eight of its well-known brands offer their best-selling products which you can eat all you want for only Php349 per brand, such as:

Click on the links above for more details.

This promo is available across 600 stores nationwide.

For tips on how to survive and make the most out of an eat-all-you-can scenario, check out my blog post here.

Check out my reviews of previous dining experiences at Max Group restaurants:

Burgers and Burritos at Army Navy, Tomas Morato

A few years ago, I was quite surprised to learn that the company behind Army Navy Burger Burrito, the same one behind Yellow Cab Pizza, is Filipino-owned.

I marveled at how the overall character of the restaurant chain, from the look and feel of the stores to the naming of the items in its American-Mexican menu, were consistent with its military theme.

No wonder the place is a hit among the boys, who prefer the packed and large-sized burgers and burritos, to sate their appetites.

Hubby, in particular, would opt for Double Burgers (Php245), two quarter pounder beef patties sandwiched in toasted sesame seed kaiser buns along with lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mayo, or the Steak Burrito (Php200), beef bits wrapped in flour tortilla along with Spanish rice, frijoles, onions, lettuce and cilantro.

For myself, I would rather get the lighter options such as the Steak Soft Tacos (Php195), three small flour tortillas stuffed with beef, onions and cilantro, or the plain Cheese Quesadilla (Php120).

I’m not much of a Mexican food fan so I usually just eat at Army Navy when Hubby insists (… and the Wife of the Year Award goes to…)

Army Navy’s Tomas Morato branch is a bit cramped and has long queues at the cashiers and slow service, particularly during lunchtime.

Check out my reviews of other burger and Mexican food restos:

Army Navy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato