Filipino/Ilocano. Looking for something to eat past dinner, we decided to go out and see what was still open. Along Kalayaan Ave and nearly closing time, we dropped by Farinas Ilocos Emapanda. An empanada is a stuffed pastry filled with a variety of fillings like meat, veggies or cheese. However this one is distinct to its original town or region. Made with rice flour on the spot, this pastry colored orange due to the achuete is rolled using what coincidentally an orange PVC pipe.
We opted for the Special Empanada that includes the Vigan longganisa (chorizo) . Its filing also included an egg and shredded mung beans sprouts. Paired with their own brand of vinegar this makes a good late night snack.
American. My wife have been telling me that this place started the croughnut craze. Since Bonifacio Global City is quite a trip, it was fortunate that they open up shop at the Podium which was more accessible for us. Located at the ground floor, the cafe was not hard to miss. With an open dining space and transparent glass you can see practically the whole restaurant even from afar.
We had early dinner and we just missed the last batch of croughnuts which was very unfortunate as this was the main reason we were there. Apparently there are specific times of the day that these goodies are sold. However we did try a couple of dishes and my wife bought brioche to take home.
I opted for the Breakfast BLT sandwich. It is just straight up what you ordered. Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. They used Gruyere (cheese) and added a fried egg. The bread was toasted consistently and with a good crunch when you bite into it. There was nothing special about the egg and seems just an add-on to create a breakfast meal. The BLT holds its own and the Gruyere did made things interesting.
My wife interestingly picked the Kimchi Fried Rice. She is not a fan of kimchi in which I love whenever we eat at Korean restaurants. Kimchi is a popular fermented side dish with cabbage as its main ingredient. Served with braised short rib and topped with a poached egg you can smell that Kimchi from the little sizzle it creates. I liked the taste of the rice infused with kimchi. The taste of sour and spicy with slightly toasted rice makes me want to eat it more. The short rib was tender and had a mild spicy kick and a tinge of sweetness. The egg on top was a bonus as it just made the fried rice better.
Although disappointed not coming home with croughnuts, we discovered the goodness of kimchi rice and seek to return to check on other baked stuff. Although a bit pricier, that taste is upscale from your usual cafe/bakery.
Tapsilog has been a local favorite as long as I can remember. It is not only for breakfast but an all-day meal you can eat at any time. Rufo’s Famous Tapa is a 24/7 establishment that has the tapsilog as their main dish. They have several branches and they used to have one not that far from where we rented our previous home.
The tapsilog’s claim to fame is its sauce. It has the combination of sweet, a tinge of spice and salt flavors that compliments the tapa in which without it can be plain ordinary. Its gravy like consistency is poured over the tapa when served with the usual fried rice and egg.
I used to consider it our go to place whenever we get hungry especialy during the wee hours. I remember fondly eating it the night before our wedding and also being our fisrt meal after a long flight from our honeymoon.
Recently, we had our first meal after a long time. We were quite disappointed that the size of the serving of the sauce and tapa were not enough for its price. It is still affordable but we did not have that same satisfaction as before. The taste was stll the same but you have to order double to truly satisfy your craving.
Filipino. A few weeks back, our family had dinner at Namnam. Located at the Greenbelt 2 Ground Floor strip of restaurants, this place is not hard to find. Among the foreign cuisine of the strip, this place promotes comfort Filipino food. They have their own takes or “twists” on classic and traditional Filipino dishes that may either remind you of the original or a completely different upgrade from the previous.
I did not order anything as it was for group sharing and I really just wanted to eat what was served. I started with the Ensaladang Pako (fern salad). Just like at home, this salad hits the spot. The salted egg and vinaigrette really compliments and highlight the pako in which was a fresh and great alternative to your usual mesclun or romain lettuces. The first twist I tasted was the Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon (tamarind broth/stew). It had all the taste of your basic sinigang however this time using beef which usually goes with Nilaga (a beef broth/soup). The beef was tender and the broth was going towards of becoming very sour. The main twist was the addition of watermelon. The fruit served as both that balanced the sourness with its sweetness and also acted like a sponge that absorbs the tamarind taste that you would get on every bite. Watermelon was a great addition from the absence of the usual ingredients like labanos (radish) and gabi (taro).
Moving forward, I had just a taste of their version of the Kare-Kare (peanut stew with oxtail). Its not the best and was above average from the usual great finds of the same dish. All of the components were there but the sauce was not working for me. The bagoong (fish/shrimp paste) didn’t even saved it from becoming a great dish. There were three fried dishes ordered and one of them was the Braised Then Fried Chicken and Pork Belly Adobo. The chicken was okay. It was a bit on the dry side that it needed vinegar to be more than your usual chicken. I like the pork belly better, the adobo flavor was really there and really could stand on its own without the chicken as a combination. I am not sure of the combination but I would choose a chicken-pork adobo over it anytime. I wasn’t really able to enjoy the fried Tilapia and squid rings as I have only had tasted them for some small servings. I do think that they were cooked perfectly as the crunch of the outside and tender meat inside were well executed. Lastly, they had their interesting twist with the Corned Beef Sisig. This popular dish is originally served with chopped parts of the pig’s head (i.e nose, mouth, ears) on a sizzling plate and drizzled with calamansi (lime) and hot sauce. The dish had revolved to many types and for Namnam’s it was the corned beef. Topped with an egg, the corned beef was the same as something you would find in a canned good. I do not know if the corned beef was from scratch but it definitely tasted the same. Unsurprisingly the sisig was different but not excellent. It was something you could have done at home at the wee hours after a good night of drinking.
Summing it up, Namnam, in which in Filipino is short for the word delicious or tasty lives up to its promise of comfort food. It reminds you of home and also tricks you by serving their own bold twists of your usual Filipino dishes. Their prices are competitive being surrounded by foreign cuisine on a great spot. I recommend it for people introducing someone to Filipino food but afraid to brave the cuisine outside of the city.
(Photos taken with a Nikon D40 | 50mm f1/8)
Celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary, we went out to lunch at Maple. Its located at the lower ground of the Shangri-La Plaza’s new wing. We have passed it by a few times before from previous visits and the Maple tree design was enticing enough to try it out. Most food on the menu are American but we settled with a salad, breakfast dish, pasta and dessert.
First to arrive was the Spaetzle Jambalaya. I like spicy food but this one was requested to be cooked as mild so my wife can eat it as well without ruining her taste buds for the other dishes. Served with Chilean Mussels and Shrimps this jambalaya dish was presented from kitchen in its cast iron. The rice was substituted with spatzle (made from egg pasta/dumpling from what I’ve read) hence the name. Although I would have loved meat with the jambalaya, the mussels were cooked right. It was soft to the bite and flavorful. The shrimp was good but really not highlighted. The pasta reminded me of the gnocchi that my wife made, light and not heavy for a main meal.
My wife ordered the Prime Rib Tapa. I think this is the lone Filipino dish on the menu. Its their take on on the Tapsilog (tapa, eggs, and garlic rice). Compared to the local favorite this dish was juiced up. The huge slice of meat was a feast with just an ample serving of eggs over the garlic rice. To compliment the dish there was vinegar and atsara strips (a pickled papaya condiment). The Tapa was cooked medium well as we like it. The meat was tender with enough fatty parts to my delight. Pure utter joy in every bite.
We ordered the Maple House Salad late so we had to eat it with the entrees. Its a great appetizer for two or three. The vegetables/greens were fresh and crunchy and the vinaigrette was on the sweet side but it did wonders overall. Surprisingly the hard-boiled egg goes well with the salad. The only disappointment was there was not enough maple glazed pecans. I counted two at most.
Finally, it was dessert time. We settled for Cronut/Croughnut ala mode. I have never ate one despite the hype and this one definitely was rich. It had chocolate or dark chocolate icing/frosting and sliced bananas in between. What I love about it was the churros like crust. The texture feels the same way as if you just dipped it in pure hot cocoa. The vanilla ice cream brings it all together for one luscious bite.
Maple is a story. It might be a fairy tale, a romance or non-fiction. Its menu is well prepared and the place was definitely not ambivalent. My wife loved the kid’s corner in where our little guy played and made a friend. The maple tree silhouette at the center was a defining accent and go along well with the rows and columns of bottles and bottles of pure maple inside the glass cases at one side of the restaurant. It was definitely a great lunch to celebrate our anniversary.
(phone shots by the missus)
I do not usually cook, limited to only a handful of recipes and what I eat for breakfast. I can follow a recipe but do not have the basic set of skills to be a great cook. For a surprise breakfast meal on our wedding anniversary, I pretended to go to work and then sneakily started in prepping my dish. Timing was everything and good thing I was able to buy some ingredients from a nearby store.
There is nothing special about the Toad in the Hole. I have never cooked or tasted it but I have seen it made by Nigella (a favorite of my wife) . It just simple pudding and sausage combined. Trying not to make a mess in the kitchen, I preheated the oven, made the batter and then fried the sausages. After a minute or two on each side, I poured the batter in to the cast iron where the sausages were seared brown. Topped it of with a fresh flat parsley from my wife’s plant outside. Placed it inside the oven and waited for 40 minutes. As I haven’t done this before, I checked on it every five minutes while I cleaned up my mess. After the 30th minute mark, the sides were already browned and the batter has risen with some cracks here and there. I took it out before it unpredictably burn without my knowledge. Better safe than food straight to the bin.
Not truly surprising, as my wife was awake at the time but didn’t know I was cooking. The taste was okay, it lacked salt and more sausages. The texture and look of the sliced “hole” reminded me of bibingka (a favorite Filipino rice cake/dessert). She liked the crust and browned sides and asked for more sausages. With some tweaking, I think my wife would be able to hit this one out of the park. Nevertheless, I find joy in cooking for her and although it did not taste as good as it looks what matter was I made it for this special day.
For the recipe, click the link below:
Toad in the Hole
Photos shot with Nikon D40 | Promaster 28-105 MM f/3.5 | Soligor 30D Flash
American/Filipino. We ate brunch at this all-day breakfast restaurant located at the Eastwood Mall. It is not inside the mall so we had to unfortunately walk while it rained on a lazy Sunday. I was very hesitant that they would have lunch on the menu and so it seems there were no dedicated entrees. Slappy Cakes has the distinction of a place where pancakes are made on the spot by pans/tray at the center of the table. You choose from different choices of batters from buttermilk, wheat, chocolate, vegan or peanut butter. After choosing the batter there are several add-ons to go with your pancake. It could be bananas, bacon or whatever you like in between. There are several sauces/syrups/spreads. Most likely popular choices would be maple syrup, Nutella or peanut butter.
I was surprised to see Filipino breakfast dishes on the menu, thinking that they would serve the westernized standard of toast and eggs. As small as the quantity of the pancake batter, the breakfast dishes had a good size of a serving. I chose the longganisa meal and my wife had tapa. The rest of the family had their own pick and from what I tasted the dishes were better than the pancake itself. Eggs were done properly because any fried egg with ketchup is good for me. The chicken variety of the longganisa was better than the pork and both were lean on fat that I most certainly missed. Dip it with some vinegar then you are all set and that the same things goes for the Tapa.
I may be biased but my wife makes a better pancake from scratch. It may be for the experience that drives everyone to eat here as most enjoyed in making his or her own shapes and letters from the batter. I would not really recommend it just for the pancakes but their breakfast dishes are spot on for a good early meal.
(phone shot by the missus)