Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Samsung Captivate i897 Galaxy S

Yesterday I went to EDSA Shangri-la to claim my Samsung Captivate Galaxy S i897. Those who have been with me in my frantic search for the best "SuperduperAMOLED Android combo" phone evidently knew that I am on a buying frenzy. And my close choices of Android devices were blogged here.

Some colleagues had asked as to why do I have to go through in getting a non-RP market phone, instead of the one available in our shore. The bachelor in me hates rounded corners of the phone bezels. Kinda reminds me of the movie "One More Chance" when Derek Ramsay was mused by Bea Alonzo for having sharp edges in his house being an extrinsic symbol of bachelorhood.

That being said means that naturally I have to choose Samsung Captivate i897 over Samsung Galaxy S i9000.

Samsung Captivate is only available for AT&T, so if you're planning of getting one, your only choice would be to get it in the US, from Best Buy or Radio Shack perhaps.

Captivate is armed with 1Ghz ARM Cortex CPU, 5MP camera(sorry no LED flash and secondary camera), 16GB of ROM, 512MB RAM, microSD card slot that can handle up to 32GB capacity, 400x800 pixel 4inch SuperAMOLED(yes, you heard it, SuperAMOLED and not just AMOLED), Gorilla Glass(industrial-grade scratch resistant screen), GPS, and a whole slew of connectivity options(Bluetooth, Wifi, 3G, etc).

The hadware itself is topnotch despite the absence of LED Flash and secondary front camera. It has a vibrant crystal clear display which doesn't deteriorate even in direct sunlight exposure and angular shift. The performance is snappy and speed is blazing. The audio is fantastic and the person calling you can still hear you from quite a distance on speakerphone. The design element is also elegant as it sports a carbon-fiber inspired metal at the back.

Inside it brews an Android Eclair 2.1 which is actually one of its letdowns as some devices are sliding towards Froyo 2.2 already. Although there is a leak Froyo update support for Captivate but being "leak" means that they're an unofficial release.

Samsung is known to have a relatively delayed support for their software/application implementation, which I think is very important if they want to catch up with HTC in this smartphone arena.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Samsung Wave S8500: S-AMOLED attraction

I have been having a Supahdupah AMOLED display delirium recently, with some of the phones springing my mind such as Samsung Galaxy S i9000, Samsung Captivate i897, and Samsung Wave S8500. Notice that all of them are all Samsung, naturally because Samsung pioneered the technology, thus obviously they can manipulate the production. The images produced by the SuperAMOLED devices are so way better than any phones in the market.

What really enamored me is the Samsung Wave S8500. Why? Because it has an underdog OS. Ironically, Bada has been trumpeted as Samsung's official OS, however due to its lack of after-market support and third party applications, they apparently paled in comparison compared to the other market players like Google Android and Apple iOS.

What sets the Samsung Wave S8500 among all of them is its elegant, metallic chassis and a design implementation way ahead of its time. But inside the Samsung wave S8500 body are some nifty hardware features: 1GHz Cortex-A8 CPU, PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, 512MB of RAM, WiFi b / g / n, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS / A-GPS, FM radio, video output, compass and accelerometer, GSM radio, which is unlocked, supports quad-band EDGE but only dual band HSPA (900 / 2100 MHz), MP camera with a LED flash and a secondary camera for 3G videocalling.

Two things that might humoring one to acquire this lovely phone: 1) no Mac support which is important for people like me who have been using Mac since the dawn of mankind 2) Bada OS seems not promising as a next-gen technology

However if you'd stick on a phone with powerful camera flash without minding to install plethora of apps, then this phone might just be good for you.

Your chance to have a SuperAMOLED phone at just a meager price of Php15,990.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

AppleCare Protection Plan: Extending your Apple Service Coverage up to 3years

Damn if you do? Or damn if you don't.

I just got my AppleCare Protection Plan from Apple Philippines which raises the eyebrows of my colleagues saying "why bother."

Well, for one, Apple products are essentially expensive. And thus any repairs, hardware replacement or service diagnostics, cost an arm and a leg. And the AppleCare is your gateway to access all the service entitlements of Apple product for two years. That translates a worry-free service guarantee with my MacBookPro if in case it conks out.

APP is an integrated service and support solution that extends Outright/Express Warranty coverage on Apple products up to three years(including your standard complimentary coverage of 1year) from your purchase period. This comprehensive plan comprises phone support from Apple Experts, global repair coverage, onsite repairs for select units(desktop computers), online support resources, and powerful diagnostic tools - all crunched in a Php13,490 price point. I recommend purchasing one along with your purchase of your system to take the maximum advantage it provides.

However, you have to do it(purchase and registartion) right before your warranty expires. Otherwise damn if you don't.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sony W252: Water Resistant Cordless MP3

For those of you who have been keeping in tune to my quite dreary life, you know that I have just rendered a review on the Sony NWZ-W202. Well, the poor running gear companion of Sony didn't serve its purpose, it didn't make it to the gym but once. After that, it got wet and with water being electronic's waterloo, it fried the circuit and ultimately rendered the W202 futile and beyond repairable.

My former company, Sony Center, did replace it with a new model Sony NWZ-W252 after several attempts of countless follow up with their Service Center, and another countless follow up of inventory management, as they initially don't have stocks on the white model when I claim for unit replacement.

Now the label says Water Resistant(*) where (*) meant "not to be immersed or in continuous contact with water."

The replacement came in sealed fresh with a reset warranty period.

But having used the W202 for almost a year(just as a boredom buster but not a gym companion), let's take a look at their notable difference:

Even if both of them sports 2Gb of internal storage, the W202 can accommodate 500songs, only 470songs in the W252. The W202 supports MP3, WMA, AAC, WMA DRM, AA Audible, while only MP3, WMA, AAC for W252. Display for W252 has quite an improvement as it displays not just Battery Level but USB Connection as well. 12hours of continuous playback for W202, only 11hours for W252.

With the specs superiority of the W202, being a water resistant in the W252's chart is still a deal breaker for me when it comes to quality upmanship.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Persia Grill: Filipinizing Persian cuisine

Going to Mister Kebab has been our normal staple, that everytime hunger bites the dust at a seemingly odd time(mostly after being flushed by a deluge of alcohol, hahaha, but this is not one of those moments), we always head up to Mister Kebab to have a gargantuan fill. That is where our passion for Mediterranean and Persian menu meliorated. Now, we have been eating Indian foods like fast foods.

This afternoon, after seeing a friend at the Mead Johnson(Chino Roces Ext), I happen to pass by a new building(I don't know if it was exactly new, but at least it wasn't there when I used to work in the area), Eco Plaza where Persia Grill sits right in front of a calming waterscape.

Branding has always been a foreplay of perception, and it is the same perception that is bane to most restauranteurs who strive to attract lower-end market but failed doing so because of their discernibly intimidating interiors. I love the cozy ambiance of this rest but others may find it too stiff and elegant. Don't let it fool you, in fact, this restaurant is not really a restaurant but a bistro. And the price is just right for its location.

Too hungry, I grabbed myself a Chicken Beef Kebab(Php199) composed of two skewers of grilled beef kebab(Kobideh) served with grilled fresh tomato, butter, and a long grain Basmati rice. With that is my appetizer, Keema GBX(Ground Beef Express sauteed with olive oil, tomato, and some frehs herbs) with a bed of Hummus(Php195). Meal is polished well with a Fresh Fruit Strawberry Shake(Php75). Thankfully prices are constructed without service charge.

Persia Grill is owned by a Pinoy Big Brother housemate, Kian, who received this restaurant chain after his college graduation. What a lovely gift. Oh well, it wouldn't be a hard paradigm shift because not far from this Persian-themed concept is their family business, Kazemi Persian Carpets along Arnaiz Road.

Persia Grill is a brilliant concept, "Filipinizing" the Persian cuisine that will smack astutely right at the Filipino taste.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HTC Desire Z: A slide-out keyboard Desire

It's probably meant to rock the world of a Motorola Milestone(Droid) with a similar landscape QWERTY keyboard slide-out mechanism.

But this sibling of the Desire HD has more than its hood to offer. HTC Desire Z boasts of an impressive SLCD(Super LCD) screen rammed with other rafts of features. Indeed, it is a snazzy Droid offering from HTC, a brand juggernaut in mobile technosphere that started out making phones long before we had our first cellphones. Remember SMART Amazing Phone? It was actually an HTC hardware slapped with a SMART logo and offered first to the enterprise market and ultimately to consumers.

It is encased in a sturdy-built aluminum body and a beautiful screen nonetheless, despite of it not being AMOLED, unlike some Desire, due to Samsung's AMOLED hoarding… este shortage.

My only gripe though is the slide out keyboard has a questionable durability since it essentially swivels out three separate hinges instead of just two. I don't know what goes into the minds of HTC but come on, this isn't Optimus Prime!!!

Although the processor speed is just 800Mhz, a 200Mhz short of the de facto 1GHZ standards of the other competing brands, the application execution is still way snappy. 5Megapixel camera has LED flash which is handy when shooting under poorly-lit environmental conditions.

This is a pretty decent device if you're not concerned about its slide out hinges getting brittled overtime. And not bad for a Php26,000 price point.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Search for the Best DROID

I have grown tired of the iOS that I am now teetering a buying frenzy for the best DROID device. Sadly, there is no such thing as a consummate gadget, which means that no matter how powerful your device is, there is always be a trade off. Because each consumer has an assortment of needs, any electronic device can never be perfect for anyone.

Droid version is something that might not be essential at the moment since Froyo(or perhaps Gingerbread and Honeycomb) is already marching towards the horizon for those devices still at Eclair stage.

So let's see the three Android devices that I am stalking at, and see what makes them grin and grimace:

1) Samsung Captivate Galaxy S(SRP Php22,000)


Super AMOLED Screen, high contrast ratio and is vibrant even in direct sunlight

Screen made of Gorilla Glass(from Corningware) which claims to be impervious to virtually any scratches


Samsung TouchWiz sucks

no Camera flash

available only for AT&T

2) HTC Desire HD(Php33,000)


large 4.3" screen

HTC Sense UI is a delight


only uses LCD

because it has a relatively large screen, the battery tend to be a tad too short

3) HTC Desire Z(Php26,000)


SuperLCD screen

HTC Sense is really cool


moving parts can get brittled in time

Why did I not include the Samsung Galaxy S which is available in the Philippines? Well, I don't like the too-rounded corners in a device, which simply put, I don't like how it looks like. And if my pals at HTC are reading this, please mull over(at the very least) a feasibility of creating an HTC Incredible Droid GSM version.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Speck Hard Case for MacBookPro

Just like buying a spanking new car that you'd end up shelling more dough for the car set-up, same goes true with electronics devices. You always had an animated habit to buy add-on accessories, either for protection or for perspicuity.

I, for example, have been torn between grabbing a Speck See Thru Case or a Speck Satin Case for my MacBook Pro. That way, I can sport different colors for my Mac in variantly different days. Ok, I know a Mac is a Mac and not a "United Colors of Benetton" but I have always been wishing to don a red laptop, and there's no red Mac.

Speck has a solution(well, depends if you see it that way because for some people, slapping a Speck makes their device look plain cheap). But having a reddish hue in the Apple logo is extrinsically arresting to my visual senses.

And the battle continues for the See Thru or Satin. Both add an accentuation of desire to your Mac by churning out a variety of colors: black, pink, purple, and cranberry(they stopped production of a lime green). They are both high-quality polycarbonate materials, one that can stand against accidental knocks and collisions, because a polished aluminum finish is never immune to the hazards of daily grind. The difference between the two: the See Thru is glossy and the Satin has a rubberized texture. One caveat though is that they will add 4oz to your laptop's overall weight.

So what about you, how do you protect your laptop. Zigg Invishield? GMask? Or plain sleeves.

Speck Cases cost Php2,450.

Thanks to Racq Santos(shown in the pic) for modeling it without a fee. Heart yah.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Terry's Selection: Spanish Gourmet Cuisine

Renowned for its gourmet Spanish deli, Terry's Selection ventured into a restaurant chain, starting off withSegundo Piso in Karivin Plaza Don Chino Roces Ext. This restauranto reino is owned by Chef Juan Carlos de Terry, who first conceptualized the place as expats' secret dining haven in Makati, right after his four year academic endeavor in Madrid.

Terry's Selection boasts of a cozy and secluded place, meant for a quality conversation, where they have deli shop at the ground floor and a restaurant at the second floor. The place was so spacious, it was surrounded by wooden racks containing world-class beverage and fine wines. The architecture is cool and classy, something that reminds you of a Spanish casa turned wine cellar.

Not a secret anymore as they have gone mainstream via their branches at Podium and Salcedo Village. And most of you probably heard of this place from lifestyle programs, magazines, and newspapers.

I got myself a Chorizo on Piggy Back(Php250 + 10% SC), a famous Spanish Chorizo flambeed with Sherry brandy and uniquely cooked by fire on top of the pig-shaped clay pot. They've definitely found a cutesy way of doing it. It was a bit salty though. Another apretivo I got was one of their best sellers, Flamenquin Andaluz(Php303.57 + 10% SC), rolls of breaded sirloin, Jamon Serrano, melted Raclette cheese, and crisp-fried ArteOliva(it's just an olive oil in maarte term, hahaha). It was superb. And last was the Spaghetti Mare Nostrum(Php285.71 + 10% SC). Mare Nostrum, an ancient name of the Mediterranean Sea, incidentally inspired this pasta dish, combining the best Mediterranean culinary symbols: goat's milk cheese, olives, capers, crispy garlic slivers, and ArteOliva oil, sprinkled with pine nuts and parsley. It had a strong flavor as expected, but it was really delicious.

I was there around 5:30PM but as the night deepens, more and more foreign dignitaries and Makati elites flock the place. This surely ranks my list of Manila's finest restaurants.

It's living a charmed life at Terry's Selection.

House of Lasagna

The J.Abad Santos has gradually evolved into a restaurant strip in San Juan, with some of the most talked-about restaurants that mushroomed within the area. The anticipatory remark that San Juan is merely a tiangge republic has been reshaped by these restaurants, where most of them essentially thrived via viral marketing.

After an expunged basketball session with the basketball wanna-be's--- who cold-bloodedly didn't show up(evading defeat? or fearing for their lives) without even giving us a txt--- fellow mobile professional and film critic friend, Edgie and I decided to hit the House of Lasagna. He accordingly heard the restaurant from Eat Bulaga, while I became aware of it through my other foodie network.

House of Lasagna is a quaint little find, sitting one unit apart from the SereniTea, my other favorite tea bar. I meant literally little as it was really small that one table from ours is just one foot apart. I can literally hear what they(people from other table) were talking, and it could also be because of their similarly and literally small speaker system. The wall's vibrant yellow paint and colorful hanged decors add up to the zest of the place, while the woody tables and chairs complemented its homey feel.

The restaurant is owned by Chef Erick Congmon, from a dynasty of restauranteurs. I used to know his lineage from my ancestral roots in Cebu, where their family owned Sunburst Restaurant, one that is emblazoned as an institution known for serving really delicious fried chickens, long before the Jollibee's Chicken Joy came to the scene.

We ordered a Pesto Lasagna(Php180) and Beef Lasagna(Php180) because we were ill-informed that the Chicken Lasagna is not available, only to have found out that it will just take 17min of prep time. They could have extended us a courtesy to choose either to wait or jump into another course, as we barely also waited 15min for the Southern Fried Chicken(Php180). The lasagna was just right, not too soggy, not too soft but the inner layer seemed to have less meat. But the chicken is topnotch, as you could actually see the glabrous texture of the skin, unlike the overbreaded chickens found in fastfoods-- a credit that may have been earned from a lengthy experience in serving best fried chicken in Cebu. Along with it we also ordered an additional Home-made Garlic Bread(Php40). Overall, their lasagna was ok for its price, but not really spectacular for its taste.

If you're in the area, there are so many foodie's joint to choose from. Indeed, the hills in San Juan is not only green, it's also alive and cooking.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sumdex Aircube Laptop Sleeve

On the first week from the soft launch of the Digital Walker in Eastwood, me and Mr.MobilityReel headed off. The shop was one of the lifestyle digital convergence shops of Charlie Paw, same man behind the Digital Hub fame. The only difference of this retail concept is the incorporation of camera technology in the Digital Walker, while purely gadgets for the Digital Hub. See? You can see me frolicking around and holding a Samsung ST550 in the picture. That darn huge digital camera!!! LoL.

I have a growing fondness for Charlie's shops because it caters to all the needs of a road warrior in me, in all of us, especially for those mobile professionals always carrying a laptop wherever, whenever.

One caveat of lugging around a laptop is the strain of subjecting your device into extreme wear-and-tear. So how does one protect his laptop from the rigid mobility and extensive travels.

For one, you need to have a bag well-cushioned to protect it from the accidental bumps and untoward repugnance. Secondly, you need to have a sleeve fitted for the size of your laptop that will protect your device from wiggling around, scratching your laptop out of other hard objects in bag, or even the zipper material of the sleeve itself.

One solution is the Sumdex Aircube Sleeve that featured air cell technology (pending patent application) for excellent protection and functionality. It also has a semi-transparent Quick Check system that allows an easier access to airport safety measures in a breeze.

The design is not only one-of-a-kind and stylish, the functionality is reassuring as it is promising. The front-side of the sleeve is made up of Thermoplastic Urethane Air-Pockets which delivers imminent protection from knocks and inevitable resistance from water spills. The back is made of up shock-absorbing neoprene. The double zip lock allows easy access while the internal zipper lip prevents it from scratching the lid and edges of your precious laptop.

For a Php1,650 a pop, I think it is one good and must-buy sleeve if you want perfect protection for your digital concierge.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Crab Cafe Lunch Buffet

Stammering lunch buffet graces my day c/o Red Crab Cafe at Gateway. It was a perfect timing as I was there around 11AM, just exactly a time that the buffet table was opened.

Little did I know that Red Crab Group of Restaurants have been whipping up buffet meal concepts to their loyal patrons when I asked the server about other restaurant promos. Accordingly Crustasia and other Red Crab Seafood Club branches have the same promo too, but on a bit steeper price point as they have more menu variety that comes with a hefty premium. Gateway Mall's branch is just a cafe, so I was thinking that it could be the reason why they have fewer variety. That was sort of disheartening because being a seafood specialty restaurant, I was expecting steaming crabs and sizzling shrimps(and possibly lobsters).

If you're willing to crack a Php299 + SC price for a sparse buffet that is practically just a Barbecue, Grilled Pork, and Crabfat Linguini, then this might just be for you to try out. Just square it off with quantity.

Along with the main entrees, they also have loads of add on like: Escargot Al Aiilo with Sliced Pesto Toasts, Seafood Chowder soup, Garden Fresh and Ceasar salads, Steamed Rice, Fruit Festival, Smoked Salmon wrapped in banana leaf, and Caramel Pie.

On the first place, I never had any flaming fondness over Raymund Magdaluyo's restaurant chains, well not the same level of ardor as compared to how I do with Rob Goco's, so my expectation at Red Crab Buffet is relatively not that superlative.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Apartment 1B: Gourmet Comfort Food

Recently heralded at the Manila's Best Kept Restaurant Secrets 2010 "Best Bistro" category seemed to be expats' favorite dwelling and dining haven. I was there just to take a late lunch and I noticed a plethora of foreign brass in casual Saturday clothes occupying almost all the al fresco tables outside, much like a Breakfast at Tiffany style-tidings.

The welcoming facade with a signage that exclaims "gourmet comfort food" speaks of a slice of heaven experience when you're here.

Apartment 1B a quaint place sitting at the brethren of the One Lafayette Square, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Characterized by the cozy and casual atmosphere blending with a homey touch with the presence of of their sofa bed and cushioned seats perched in a Texas-country home style rug. The counter is reminiscent to Australian bistro where pull-out menus are written on boards. The second floor comprises arrays of tables and chairs, again with a sofa bed and this time a large plasma TV hanging on the wall. Here is indeed an epitome of a warm abode(even the washrooms are a lot like those found in the hotel apartment); but the name Apartment 1B is actually derived from their unit number, a naming concept revolutionized by 6750.

My table is delectably graced by a Half Roast Chicken(Php430 + 10% SC) with fresh herbs, garlic mashed potato, complimented by a deliciously prepared gravy like no other. Concluding entree is of course a dulce deliciozo, a creme de la creme, a dessert. Frozen Pie(Php190 + 10% SC). Don't think it's just a piece of cake. It's essentially a frozen vanilla ice cream with Oreo crust drizzled with caramel and chocolate syrup with crushed walnut. It's probably one of those desserts that makes you forget your name, as the cliche goes.

The restaurant is a brainchild of Marilou Diaz Lim. I was supposed to order their baked Samosa but I don't have the gastric vacancy to accommodate my entire cravings. It's a gourmet goodness at its best. My hats off to the fine craftsmanship of Marilou Diaz Lim and making it at the year's FnB's most coveted accolade, MBKRS.

Nokia N8: Most powerful camphone

Touted as the most powerful camera phone, Nokia N8 rallied as one of the many high-end phones hoping to put Apple iPhone under extreme pressure. We know for the fact that Nokia has been struggling to retain its earlier dominance in the high-end phone category, a foothold once wielded by the Nokia Communicator.

This time around, Symbian^3 seeks salvation fait accompli in the form of Nokia N8. But what else does this phone do aside from having a monster camera.

Outside it is enclosed with an aluminum chassis perfectly blending with my similarly aluminum MacBook Pro. One notable physical characteristic is the Home button oddly placed at the bottom far left side and the protrusion of the camera at the back. Fret not because this packs the biggest image sensor yet to be clad by any phone, Carl Zeiss optics and a Xenon flash combines a megapixel power. Best of the feature has yet to unfold, it also comes with the HDMI port that outputs recorded video, images, and even music.

Under its hood is the ARM 11 Microprocessor at 680Mhz clockspeed with 256MB RAM. This configuration is a giant leap from previous Nokia devices but not as monumental as the ones sported by the competing manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola. On the connectivity feature, it comes with 802.11N wifi, Bluetooth 3 Plus A2DP, GPS, USB On-The-Go, and an HDMI Port. 3.5inch AMOLED display at a 640x360 screen resolution is quite impressive, however it isn't as commandingly detailed as the Apple iPhone 4G. It may produce vibrant images due to its high contrast ratio but not as a sharp as the iPhone 4g.

The verdict? It may wallop megapixel pound-for-pound with other smartphones in the market, and has the recently updated Symbian flavor, however it still glaringly cut short against the Android and iOS competition. But if you're a long-time Symbian user, this might just be a good buy for you at Php20,990.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rockstars of Science

Just as any profession and passion we do, we created an ephemeral iconology in our lives. Some adored Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Justin Bieber, and Jessica Simpson. We look up to them like they were the paradigm of our existence, the exemplary path that we follow.

I am not different. For those who have been ramming down my throat and keeping up my boring traverses in life, you know that my after-office life is with the scientific community. I adore Nobel laureates just as I do with backyard inventors.

But these circle of great men and woman rippled a centripetal effect of my scientific aspirations. From left to right were: Galileo Galilei(astronomer, Scientific Revolution),Marie Curie(chemist, radioactivity), Robert Oppenheimer(physicist, father of the Atomic Bomb), Isaac Newton(physicist, discover universal graviton), Louis Pasteur(microbiologist, vaccination), Stephen Hawking(cosmologist, quantum gravity), Albert Einstein(physicist, Special Relativity Theory), Carl Sagan(astronomer, exobiology and Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) , Thomas Edison(inventor, various electrical devices),Aristotle(philosopher, physical science), Neil deGrasse Tyson(astrophysicist, intelligent design concept) , Richard Dawkins(ethologist, genetic-based evolution), and Charles Darwin(naturalist, Natural Selection Theory).

They're the rockstars of science and I want them on my dining area, at the center of where the giant wooden spoon and fork are located at.


***To my fellow astronomers, see you in our Christmas Party. Dec 12, Manila Planetarium***

I'm pretty excited on our lecture: Applied Science on Meteor Showers.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Go Greek at Glorietta Food Court

It's weekdays once again and it is fast food / food court days. Contrary to the belief of some, I don't frequent fine dining restaurants most of my time, due to my limited lunchtime. In fact, I reeled by the dictum that says "fast-food on weekdays, fine dining on week ends."

The latest stop was a creative juice of Chef Rob Goco, same man behind Cyma and Charlie's Grinds & Grill fame. Although not essentially an authentic Greek cuisine but it has the basic components.

Located at the far end of the Glorietta food court, where there are lighted seats in cubicle form, it is one of the best conceptualized food stalls bustling in the food court proximity.

Go Greek serves Souvlaki(minced meat and vegetable grilled in skewer), Moussaka(Greek's version of lasagna which uses eggplants instead of noodles), and Gyro(Greek dish consisting meat, tomato onion, and tzatziki sauce served with Pita bread).

For my lunch, I grab myself their Lamb Gyro Platter(Php195) comprising green salad tossed according to my likeness, broiled potato, and roast lamb sprinkled with tomato, onion, and cucumber in small pieces served with Pita bread. I ordered an extra Greek rice(Php60).

The salad in itself was a good catch since it is served in front of me, akin to the Ristras where Burritos are assembled right up front. Fresh and flavorful, it has a sweet but tangy kick. My food were served with two sauces, one a thick brown sauce that has a weird sweet-sour taste more like a barbecue sauce with a drips of wine. The other, a usual white sauce served you can find in a Kebab restaurants.

Overall, it was a nice stall concept. However, it being just in a Glorietta food court, you might not find more menu choices, unless Chef Rob Goco decides to flourish it into a full-blown restaurant.

LG Optimus One: Another budget Android Phone

Hell no, this wasn't hatched out of the LG sale some few weeks back. Not that I don't want to grab that steal-deal of 50% off slashdown, I was actually there, but just to witness the event. I dread that the long lines will be insanely lengthy, and it indeed was. And as a technology journalist, I am always there to cover tech-related events, where it happens, when it happens.

This LG Optimus One was priced at SRP Php12,990. Although, some off-mall shop offering gray market units can get one for around Php12k at a cost of an uncertain warranty entitlement.

So what makes this LG glaringly sought after than the other sale item that same day which is Nokia C6. Let's dissect it:

The screen is just an HVGA, one that pixelates when you zoomed out pictures. virtual keyboard is the de facto Android keyboard which is not really appealing, although one can get a plethora of keyboard options at the Android market. Camera is a 3megapixel snapper but not a LED flash to light out dark shooting conditions. I like it sturdy feel over Samsung Galaxy 5, but the physical buttons(Menu, Home, back, Search) devoid its glamour. It would have raised a design ante had it sported similar HTC Wildfire's optical buttons.

Although this has a whole slew of connectivity options like HSDPA, Wifi, and 3G, one that really makes me a mad cow virulent to covet it is the Android Froyo. I asked same thing to the people during the sale event. Some would say it is because of the Android OS 2.2 which promises to topple iOS 4, while most says they're merely bargain hunters. I belong to the Android demographics, although I am a happy iOS user as well. Surprisingly none ever expressed affirming brand loyalty to LG. That chaotic sale event may further antagonize LG and foster "brand insulation".

My verdict with this phone is that, at it's price point, it is already a perfect blend of price and functionality. If you want more frills, grab one with a heftier price-- PRICE is always a key indicator of electronic device's desirability value.

Samsonite laptop bag: Red Santiago Edition

I've been prowling over some malls to check out a laptop bag. Of course, no brand ever suits well with my rigidly mobile lifestyle than Samsonite. I have owned Samsonite luggages before that endured the very unsparing conditions, so my affinity to the brand stayed along as how it did with me on my rigorous demands. The other bag brand that I am deeply enamored at is Victorinox, had it not been because of Manny Pacquiao, I would have gotten Victorinox watch as well.

Red. It has to be red. Reglatic red. My gravitation towards anything red has been scientifically unexplained, but one that I have accepted well even if it sometimes invite people to question my virility.

And it has to be something that can be taken to the gym as well during week-ends, one that serves both form and function purposes.

The choice, Samsung Santiago edition bag. The The specifications:

  • Fits up to 15inch laptop
  • Rip-stop fabric
  • Padded computer sleeve pocket
  • Integrated pockets for gadgets
  • Contains cord conduit for the MP3 player

This is a durable and comfortable mobile solution for laptop transportation needs. The Samsonite laptop bag is made up of specialized fabric for utter durability and quality to keep the most priced electronics possession that one has, making it sitting safely and comfortably.

The price? Php2,890.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Society Lounge: Makati's Social Joint

It has risen its stanchion as a premiere destination for the nocturnal elite, the Makati's favorite social joint, Society Lounge is where I had myself a fill last night. Hell no, I am not classifying myself as one, I just didn't have a choice since both Singaporean and Korean restaurants I planned to dine in at the Ayala Triangle, Wee Nam Kee and Bon Chon, are unusually full.

So my choices would just be Escolta at the Manila Peninsula, Old Swiss Inn at the Sommerset, or Society Lounge at the Atrium. I can't have a buffet that evening because I was slated to be at Epoy Larredo's homecoming slash house party later that night(which I supposed would challenge my beer tummy), so I tried Society Lounge instead.

Society Lounge is inspired by the famed French Fashion Food and, since its opening last March of this year, it has revolutionized metropolitan's dining experience. It is essentially a French fusion cuisine that serves the best of epicurean French-Asian menu that scales new heights of exquisite taste and urban sophistication. The place is a masterpiece of Chef Patrice Freuslon whom I have meet that night. Being a pastry chef for the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Houston Texas and Circus Restaurant in Lebanon are but among of his culinary credentials.

The interior is reminiscent to the Almario design-elements but it was actually Chef Patrice's uniquely compelling ideas. Shrouded with sleek and elegance, its high ceiling is flooded by dazzling chandeliers, its wooden floors radiated by couches and chairs in rich-textured fabrics.

My meal kicked off with courtesy bread, most of them wheat, that comes with rolled butters like Yema. Then comes the Linguini a la Carbonara Creme with Bacon bits(Php475 + 12% SC), full-bodied and is enough to satisfy a hungry stomach. Then to finish it all would be a Symphony of Assortment de Desserts Selectionnes Per Le Chef(Php375 + 12% SC). After my meal, a rich robusta coffee was provided by the Chef.

During week-ends, the restaurant reels into an entertainment hub as the night deepens, with dim lights, DJ's booth, and chill-out music to boot.

The place is a realm of class and elegance, recommended for those dining and drinking crowds who'd like to taste the luxury of fun-filled music and a blend of fantastic food.

Friday, November 26, 2010

CCA Kitchen: One-Stop Shop Culinary Hub

CCA has been a forerunner of culinary masterpieces with the proliferation of their matriarch restaurant chain, Cravings. It has even produced celebrity chefs prodigious for their kitchen wizardry in the likes of Chef Rosebud Benitez and Chef Janice de Belen.

Lately, Marvin's bride-to-be, Shiela and I tried out their sibling restaurant, CCA Kitchen at the New Eastwood Mall since it's near her place. It's fundamentally a one-stop culinary hub known for its interactive cooking concept where guests can request for a la carte or set menu. I was apprehensive at first because I don't want my food brewed out of experiment from chefs with no professional degree, but lo and behold, it came out quite remarkably delicious. Students are constantly guided by their resident chefs under a microscope so you are ensured that foods are done and presented impeccably.

It's a refreshing restaurant experience that actually secedes from the usual drab, too-formal dining set up. Brightly colored interior with cherry-hued, pastel-designed walls and some culinary merchandise were a crest for excitement and dynamism, one that caters to an ever changing tastebud.

That day, we ordered a Spaghetti with Bolognese Meat Sauce(Php275 + 10% SC) which is really flavorful from the strands to the sauce up to the meatballs. And the voracious eater in me got myself a Sunday's Best Roast Chicken(Php320 + 10% SC) which is really huge as it includes the wing and leg part, and is probably half of the entire chicken. To polish our meal, we had ourselves a Houseblend Iced Tea(Php65 + 10% SC).

But what really makes me exciting is the Splurge Salad concept, which is essentially an eat-all-you-can salad for every purchase of their main course. But you have to whip up the salad yourself at their salad bar. As if their courtesy bread and slew of soups aren't enough to make me full(all endlessly streaming), salad bar constitutes most of my meal.

This satellite kitchen from CCA seems like a 7-11 of restaurant concepts, it has all you've got, it's a bakeshop, culinary school, deli, chef's boutique, and restaurant all rolled out into one converged goodness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harry's Bar Restorante Italiano at Venice Piazza

If only there were faux Grand Canal, Rialto, and a tower of St. Mark standing within the landmark, the Venice Piazza would have been a spitting image of a perfect Italian scene.

However the Venice Piazza is still the closest one can get when we talk about the famous Italian panorama that somehow shared the same spot as Santorini as far as grandeur is concerned. Replete with statues sticking on the high towers, a water display, and some performers doing Operatic arias, the place is a magnifico esposizione.

After the Nessun Dorma, my favorite clasical piece, was rendered, I immediately headed off to a restaurant to have a fill. Where else to complete the Italian aura than at Harry's Bar Restorante Italiano.

Harry's Bar is essentially a trattoria type, not a restoranti-- something that shatters the monotony of stiff and utterly formal dining. Inside one can see the arrays of Italian wines lined up on the walls, just right at the foothold of paintings made of well-renowned Italian artists. It's a small, squared cubbyhole that has a requisite brick walls and a vibrant yellow colored palette added the casual atmosphere of the place. A slew of al fresco tables scattered outside for those diners who fondly smoke. Nothing else brings this place a welcoming spirit than those white, rattan woven chairs for a relaxed conversazione. But according to Chef Ivan Bayona, the colored plates added to that.

That night, i got myself an in-house set course, composed of Antipasto, Primo, Secondo, and Dolce which are Verdure Alla Grilla(grilled zucchini, eggplants and onions in balsamic dressing), Aglio E Olio(a spaghetti with chilli, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil), Chicken Parmigiana(Chicken breast stuffed with spinach, salame and mozzarella cooked in a creamy white wine and sage sauce served with a side of salad), and three Decadent cupcakes(made of Belgian chocolate). All for a spanking cheap Php600 + 10% SC.

To conclude my meal is a Basilicor which is a refreshing Orange cooler with basil and a shot of Vodka for only Php140 + 10% SC. Basilicor is one of the first cocktail concoctions of their prime chef, Chef Stef Zanirato.

It's one of the best Italian-induced nights I ever had without spending a Euro currency.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RockMelt: Rocking your browser experience

I'm a rabid user Safari(my Snow Leopard browser) but recently I just received an invite to try out a new browser. Dubbed as a pseudo-social networking hub, Rockmelt is essentially a Google Chromium foundation software, somehow reminiscent to Flock which is based on Firefox.

Rockmelt capitalizes the fact that most netizens are generally emblazoned to the social networking sites. This browser cleanly integrates the Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Gmail, Blog, RSS Feeds among other plethora of social platforms when you launch it.

Rafts of features include a display of your online Facebook friends and their new post and status for you to peruse upon, and a nifty Facebook feed and Twitter update on the right side that has the option for a full-page view. Clicking on the icon pops out a list of new articles using site RSS feed.

It's so handy because you can chat with your Facebook friends even without opening it. Messenging aspect is widely regarded as a browser phenomenon by allowing a collaborative photo sharing and web viewing.

Some functionalities though are still in my testing table and will probably give a full-blown review about it in the coming days.

Right now the browser is still in Beta stage and is only available by invitation, so who else would I invite but my friends who are using Mac and are addictively social networking junkies in the likes of Aixa Sison and my cousin Janice Mercado.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Everything at Steak: Cheapskate Steak

After a knuckle hard basketball game that Saturday, we headed off to Wilson Street to swing el cheapo steaks without bludgeoning our pockets.

Located oddly at a gasoline station, the place is a hit among steak lovers and families who like to have more by spending less. The place is indeed a vicarious attempt to have a quality, Filipino-style steak pegged at an amazingly affordable price.

On the counter were three orange orb lights that gives a warmth to the ambiance. It's a fairly small place, one that only accommodate around 20 tables, or maybe even less. Surprisingly, the size of the place is inversely proportional to the serving quantity of their entrees.

In any restaurant, one can never go wrong with the house speciality. So I ordered a T-Bone Steak(Php195) with cheesy swirl pasta toped with a meatball and a cup of rice and a 1/3 pound Burger(Php145)which is a ground chuck patties on a lightly toasted bun. It's a juice toasted burger with lettuce pickle relish, tomatoes, marinated in balsamic vinegar, caramelized onions, and American cheese served with a bed of home-style fries and spicy yogurt dressing on the side. As if it ends there, I actually ordered an additional patty and cheese(Php50). For a change since he is frequenting the place for a steak, Edgie ordered a Lamb Shoulder(Php195) with potato salad and a cup of rice. The side dishes were itself flavorful and they were plentiful.

We ended up with waistlines enlarged, belts crying for help, and a shirt bulging out from our tummies.

Everything at Steak is an ingenious concept of Chef Allan Chan who studied culinary arts in Vancouver. It is indeed a treasure trove of steak goodness at such a bang-for-the-buck value. At its price range, it is one of Manila's best and is astutely fitting for the gourmand eater in all of us, not minding the location.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Borough: Slice of New York

I just had my breakfast today at Borough by Il Pontecillo at the Podium right before my meeting. Of course, I ensured to it that I will be full during the entire course of the grueling meetings I am slated for the day.

For those who have been sleepy slackheads with what's going on at the metro, Borough is a new spot to check out too. It is a loft-style bar inspired by the slice of the Big Apple, and just like New York, it's also is a restaurant that never sleeps by offering comfort food Brooklyn style 24x7.

The place is cozy for a relaxing conversation. The light green walls were accentuated by wooden trimmings, brown painted, and furnished with photoframes akin to the Sinatra era. Aside from the warm, floral upholstered seats were high chairs in similarly muted floral design rising at the communal tables made of wooden planks. It's homey for a deep conversation over a cocktail or a bottle of German beer, especially in the smoking ledge where a Mafia-themed seats were located at.

Even Borough's culinary savoir-faire is a New Yorker resident, Chef Cuit Kaufman.

Whipping up the meal to welcome my morning is a Steak and Eggs(Php450 + 10% SC) composed of sliced tenderloin steak with two scrambled eggs and a doze of chilli sprinkled home-fries.Because my morning can't live without rice, I ordered a cup of Jasmine Rice(Php40 + 10% SC).

Polishing my meal is a Granola mixture with Yoghurt, fresh milk, and slices of fresh fruits(Php260 + 10% SC).

My only gripe though are the Chowking type plate and the water that I am not sure if it is distilled or purified as it tasted like those fountain drains straight from NAWASA pipelines because it taste like green algae. I know because I have been drinking those types of water when the filtered reverse-osmosis'ed waters are not yet introduced to the public.

It's an exquisite New York dining experience minus the Statue of Liberty.

HTC Wildfire: Budget Android Phone

The good thing about yuletide season is not the filled, hung stocking on the chimney wall. It is what you fill into those stockings. Can't quite get the metaphor? It's your capacity to buy gadgets like there's no tomorrow, thanks to a myriad of company bonus and 13th month and 14th month and what-have-you.

Let me introduce to you the latest addition to HTC phone lineage, the HTC Wildfire. This budget device is touted to be a crossbred between two equally powerful, Android-clad devices, HTC Desire and the Google's Nexus One. I say it's a budget device because without the Samsung Galaxy 5, it could have been the cheapest among its breed.

Similarly Android powered as its distant cousin HTC Desire, under its hood are premium specs: 528Mhz Qualcomm MSM 7225 processor, 3.2inch capacitive display, 384MB of RAM, and a 5megapixel camera. For its price point, one would only expects 2.8inch resistive display, 256MB RAM, and a 3.2MP camera. So you get your money's worth on the specs alone, being only tagged as Php13,990.

It has plethora of software a road warrior could ask for, including Android 2.1 Eclair(which can be upgraded to Froyo 2.2 if available), Leap which is neat for switching homescreens, FriendStream widget for checking out your friends, intuitive highlighting tool similar to iPhone, built-in Flash lite, and a Keyboard that which is probably one of the best virtual keyboards in the market. It also has Live Wallpapers that I find cool to pride when having Android OS. :)

One caveat though, aside form the fact that it isn't AMOLED, is that some apps from the Android market may not run properly because of its low resc screen, so future Android users might want to consider having at least 480x320 resc.

I am not really enamored at the sable brown finish because it looks so D.O.M.-ish, so a white variant is astutely fine for me. Trendy and modern, it's an immaculate white with a metallic silver band slicing the monotony at the back cover, just like the HTC HD2.

My verdict? HTC Wildfire may not punch a power wallop in comparative degree to HTC Desire, but it does deliver its job fairly well at its price point.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Loop Creative Dining

At the Zuellig Loop, back of The Column, is a restaurant with an obviously compelling name, you guess it, Loop Creative Dining. Seems like the creators didn't really bother thinking other names creatively but their menu.

Loop Creative Dining is a restaurant school of Institute of Culinary Arts and Food Service. It has an emblem of infinity, which may symbolize an infinite way to creatively concoct a menu, apart from the fact that a calligraphy design is a common and elegant integration of most dining havens.

Headed by Chef Joey Herrera, Loops promises cooking that goes beyond science; emotion and expression are elements that flourishes into an ultimate hearty meal, where creativity is their core competency.

The interior is modest, no fancy ceiling, but it was sleek and classy. Spherical lighting fixtures of the round table are astutely coherent to its infinity design.

That night, I got myself a Grilled Double-Cut Porkchop(Php380 + 10% SC), it was really thick with a home-made apple barbecue sauce. Mashed Potato Souffle(Php75 + 10% SC) added a flavorful goodness of the meat.

Topping it all, I grabbed a Grilled-Chicken Ceasar salad(Php195 + 10% SC), a combination of scrumptious chunks of grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, and Ceasar dressing. And the salad is probably one of the best salads I have ever tasted.

Although I ordered a Loop Iced Tea(Php80 + 10% SC), highly recommended, which has a mango tanginess and a right amount of froth, I was given a courtesy drink Butterbean(Php180 + 10% SC but was given FREE by the Chef), a Caribbean-based cocktail that is comprised of Malibu, Butterscotch schnapps and a doze of vanilla vodka c/o Chef Francis Tarin.

Although the menu is a paltry, it has all the categories you need on food and beverage, and they were done well. Customer service is snappy and efficient, parking space abounds.

Loop yourself in.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bono Yaki: Bona fide yakiniku

Along the stretch of C5 of E.Rodriguez Ave. lies Bono Yaki, a new dining destination bound to satisfy your endless gastronomic pit with its smorgasbord, smokeless grill set up.

At the second level of where the Mercury Drug is located at is this restaurant that just had a grand opening last July of this year. The restaurant boasts of the best value-for-money buffet that and sushi bar via yakiniku theme. The huge mirror wall(with a reflection me while taking a picture of it) with a lighted Bono Yaki signage is a centerpiece of the interior's design element.

Upon entrance, you will be welcomed by a slew of friendly, well-trained staff who will guide you into your preferred spot and make everything ready for you. The ambiance is cozy for a nice hearty talk, redolent of a prestigious Chinese restaurant with demographics that are mostly professional crowds taking extended business courses into their mealtime.

I have been sinfully indulging these types of restaurants whenever my appetite ruthlessly sets in, and the best that I had so far was at the Urameshi-Ya, however they're darned too pricey.

Bono Yaki may change the way we do with grill outs with the combination of its cold kitchen desserts, cold cuts standards, and the comestible readily-cooked entrees. And they even serve ice cream for those who'd like to polish the eating session with conventional desserts.

On the buffet table, they have Gindara, salmon, tuna, tuna sashimi, squid sashimi, squid and of course, shrimp, but the shrimp was a hit. Their were even filler dishes that you can munch while waiting for your meats to get properly cooked. To top it all, they also have a salad bar with a plethora of eight compound salads.

We grabbed thin slices of bacon, meat, shrimp, and a whole gamut of grillables into our table, a viking feast that we never thought we can ravage.

Pigging and picturesqueing with me is a two-month pregnant Dianne c/o Francis. :)

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