Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mango Tree Bistro: Cosmopolitan Thai Cuisine

I now know the reason why a friend whom I fondly regard as a kitchen goddess is so fond of this restaurant, they serve really good Thai cuisine.

Comparing it with People's Palace in Greenbelt or the Azu Thai in Milky Way Arnaiz might not be appropriate since Mango Tree Bistro is essentially just a bistro which does not boast itself of a full quintessence of a fine dining restaurant.

It is the first Mango Tree franchise in Manila from the acclaimed Mango Tree restaurant chain founded by CEO and Chef Pitaya Phanphensophon who had his book "I'm Not A Chef" on sale for Php1,500 at the restaurant's receiving area. He has been operating several restaurants across the globe– Dubai, Macao,Tokyo, London, Kuching, Busan, and recently in Manila.

The restaurant's interior is a bit dark but a classy rendition of elegance, with lights not directly beaming against your sight, and the comfortable leather seats presenting a laid-back atmosphere. They even have a bottle of Merlot wine displayed each table, an intrinsic mark of what a bistro should be.

Nothing goes to waste if you order bestseller, and so I did. On my table are Phad Thai Goong(Php350 + 10% SC), a stir fried rice noodle with prawns and Phad Thai sauce, Moo Satay(Php250 + 10% SC), a pork satay served with peanut dipping sauce, Tub Tim Grub(Php150 + 10% SC), red ruby chestnut in coconut milk and ice cubes, and Kow Niew Ma Muang(Php150 + 10% SC), ripe fresh mango served with sticky rice.

Phad Thai is outstanding, no wonder why Michelle's hubby loves it so much. For the Tub Tim Grub, I was hoping that they'd put in a finer crushed ice in it since it is actually their version of Thai halo halo, or so I thought.

I am not really a Thai food affionado, I felt like they are culturally torn between the Chinese and middle eastern culture, so does their cuisine. But with Mango Tree Bistro, the dishes were exquisitely treated to serve taste bud of all races and reaches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

PLDT acquired Sun Cellular

When the news about Jollibee buying out Mang Inasal spewed out into the open, I just give an indifferent causal shrug. But with the acquisition of Sun Cellular from PLDT, it sends mixed discomfort especially from the consumer perspective.

Free enterprise has always been good economic standpoint and multilateral benefits. With the acquisition, one will expect strategic price compromise from the remaining competition. There'd be less, if not an absolute absence, of price wars from telco. There's be no more struggles to keep up their a better service portfolio since the buyout spells huge market dominance.

For those who shifted from Smart to Sun, this would be avoiding a hit from the hammer but eventually hitting it to your head in the process. That is exactly the reason why I bought a Sun Broadband USB Stick because I am not really satisfied with the service and speed of the Smart Broadband USB.

With the combined consumer-base strengths of Sun and PLDT, they now occupy 70% of the entire market share. The apothegm that says "if you can't beat them, join them" must have been the driving force that led the Sun Cellular to sell their stocks to PLDT.

Now, speaking of acquisition as an industry trend, do I have to expect a possible future similarity on ABS-CBN buying ABC 5?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

King Chef: A king's feast

I am enthralled by the chopstick culture, enraptured by Chinese - Japanese cuisine, and infatuated by the Php40++ dumplings. I have combed all promo of its kind in the urban landscape. Causeway, Shaolin Tea House, and this time King Chef. I have been grinning to try this restaurant since last week. However, the lack of electricity in the entire Banawe stretched impedes my plan. I ended up dining at Lugang Cafe instead.

The name of the restaurant is King Chef. Had it not been because of the huge signage on the road, you'd never notice the restaurant since it is tucked in discreetly behind Starbucks. The restaurant is not just hidden behind Starbucks, it is even visually obscured by its own function hall that is positioned a lot like annex dining area.

The cushioned seats with fine-printed Chinese characters embellish its authenticity. The interior, though a bit cramped, is vibrantly-lit and vividly decorated, veering away form my usual predisposed perception about Chinese restaurants to be a bit old, rustic, and requiring design overhaul. Perhaps it is because the restaurant had just opened last year.

The service was fast, efficient and quite heralding. The first time I was there, having no electricity, the servers took extra mile to fan their diners with native abaniko and makeshift pamaypay just to hoist up the dining experience.

My table was filled with Pork Siomai(Php48), Sharks Fin(Php48), Japanese Siomai(Php48), Shrimp Roll(Php48), Yang Chao Fried Rice(Php190), Sliced Chicken Curry(Php250) and a Beef Brisket Noodle(Php125). I don't really expect a spectacular taste on all these, but they taste good and typically Chinese nonetheless.

Because of the heap of my orders, my service tea on a pot had to be replenished twice. It was indeed a feast for a king.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lugang Cafe: World-class Chinese cuisine

Because the entire Banawe stretch is damned with no power, and my trip to King Chef Restaurant rendered useless, I was forced to head all the way to Connecticut Greenhills just to eat sumptuous Chinese cuisine. I was told the the electricity will be restored at a 30min MTBF(mean-time between failure) but I waited and still no electricity pumped up.

The stop, Lugang Cafe. No, it's not pronounced as "lu-ga"(Filipino translation of cerumen), but "lu-kha." They just couldn't use the original name, Bellagio Cafe, due to SEC-registration factors, so they opted for the local Lugang instead.

Lugang Cafe is a franchise of Bellagio Management Group, a restaurant chain based in Beijing and Shanghai that has spawned over 26branches already, the Manila branch is the 27th.

Lugang Cafe isn't hard to find. It is vibrantly lit with posh interior and high ceiling embellished with elegant chandeliers. The dining area is so spacious with white and velvet leather seats, long bench with black and white fine prints bedecked in crystal wall and the gleaming white tiled wall in front showcasing an exquisite visual illusion. Don' fret. The interior might be a bit intimidating but the price is tailored to the dining Juan in all of us.

I am not really fond of Xiao Long Bao and I had a feeling it will be just like the one in Peking Garden so I picked up different entree. I got myself a Stewed Pork with Preserved Vegetable(Php360 + 10% SC), a thin sliced of pork marinated to a finest gustatory goodness, Black Pepper Beef on Iron Plate(Php360 + 10%SC), a beef served with myriad of vegetables and spices, a Pineapple Fried Rice(Php280 + 10% SC), a Chinese fried rice served with nuts and placed in the innards of a sliced pineapple, and an Aloe Jelly in Honey Lemon Juice(Php120 + 10% SC), a honey-based juice with slices of lemon and tiny bits of nata de coco.

I went there with a repulsed apprehension since 1) I have no reservation 2) I am not sure if they have a certain window of operation, like a limited range of hours for lunch and same thing for dinner. Good for me that I got there before 5PM when there were only few people around. By the time it reaches 6-7PM, a barrage of dinners waited outside for a table. So phone in for reservation at +632 775 7599 if you are planning to hit the place during peak hours / meal time.

Paris Delice: the pleasantry that is Paris

Let me start by saying that this is a dedication entry to two of the catwomen in my life, Kate and LadyE who are busy in their own twofold tasks: one trying to master her culinary craft as a future wife, while the other, raking replete of profit for being one of the the Philippine's promising fashionpreneur.

Right smack at the Bel Air side of Makati Avenue lies a cozy French cafe called Paris Delice. Easily construed to have a meaning which stands for "delicious Paris" , this cafe indeed serves delicious authentic croissants, baguettes, quiches, and escargots au fruits. The bread were so authentic that they even have them imported from Paris while the organic fillings like veggies are locally sourced.

Not only that the interior's design elements are a lavish Paris ambiance, the cafe too is teeming with French expats. The Eiffel Tower fronting the facade is a gracious welcome of the French spirit, one I vaguely have any idea of, other than their own version of sliced potato and their widely known lip service. French aboard in abundance, that I felt like everyone speaks French, so for the sake of cultural congruity, I even said my name is Jean(pronounced as "Zzhan" like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Jean Reno) when I was asked for my name for order call-out.

I was informed about their specialty so I ordered them. Le Lillois(Php145), a 6incher French baguette filled with chicken, bacon, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce, Bolognaise pasta(Php195), a pene pasta sprinkled with ground beef in a special meat sauce, and a Cappuccino(Php85) to conclude my meal. Le Lillois taste so good but I could hardly finished the entire length. Everything French is always served in grandiose abundance, take French kiss for example.

One of the owners / co-President, French national Florian Coucke employs an exceptional hands-on management, very literally, that he is also the delivery guy. His credential must have stated co-President and Delivery Driver rolled into one. Hahaha. I saw him driving the delivery motorcycle and overheard them at the counter that he has complied the delivery volume that day. Now beat that kind of focused management.

Of course, my first bite goes out to Kate and LadyE. (evil laugh)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sango, The Burger Master: Best rice burger

Some colleagues of mine in my erstwhile office in Makati had been coaxing me to join the pack in trooping to the famed rice burger in town. That was way before McDonald's concocted(rather copied) with their own version which ultimately ended up in an utter failure.

The place was located at the other side from where we had our office then at at Don Chino Roces Extension. Now that each of us fled and led each own lives, Creekside Mall is something that I seldom go to. And their signature rice burgers were left unviolated by my monster appetite.

The name of the place is Sango, The Burger Master. Lately, I discovered that they have a branch in Rockwell Powerplant Mall with a bit chic, hyped up logo from the one at Amorsolo branch. One lazy afternoon, when in Rockwell, I tried out it out.

The place is teeming with Japanese culture, from origami paper artistry sitting on the deck of their kitchen's glass window to the ornamental twigs of the dining area, from the flat screen TV relentlessly playing Japanese MTV to the Japanese characters as part of their branding portfolio, from the Japanese books and comics to DVDs-- everything is a youthful, modern Japan bespeaketh.

On my to-devour-list are Unagi Rice Burger(Php255), a sumptuous taste of unagi(it's an eel) sandwiched in rice bun, Yakiniku Rice Burger(Php145), deliciously marinated thin beef slices inside rice buns, a Large Master Fries(Php125), a fries sprinkled with meat sauce, topped with squares of cheese and a special dip with chopped onions. They have a free upsize promo for every order of large fries so I grab a soda(Php30) too to come along with it. The rice burgers were so damn good, calling them to be a burger master is but an underestimation.

The place has a free wifi too, I noticed a group of people from an ad agency unfurled their laptops while brainstorming for their project.

Press Cafe: A writer's nest

Even if my love of writing is getting into my nerves, being an Editor In Chief of our company's news portal has always been a daunting job. That is probably the reason why most publication houses have Atlas as their official iconology as journalistic writing itself is as colossal as carrying the entire planet's weight into your shoulder.

My case isn't an exemption. In line for our brainstorming session, I went to Fully Booked Rockwell to browse around publication that would at least give me a sparkling resolve as to what theme are we going to highlight to for our release issue. In my prodding, I happen to pass by Press Cafe. It's a brightly colored coffee shop and dining spot right at the tenement of the bookstore.

Whether Press Cafe is named after its target demographics, the press people nonetheless, or that it earned its name being a coffee shop with a pressing invitation to lure bookworms, I don't know. But Press Cafe serves both press people and bookworm alike. In fact, the menu is centered on both, O's Book Club sandwich is a classic example and is what I have ordered.

O's Book Club Sandwhich(Php195 + 10% SC), is a wheat-based sandwich with grilled chicken, crisp bacon, roasted garlic, tomato and peppers. Another sumptuous something on my table is Pesto with Grilled Chicken(Php225 + 10%SC), a pene-based pasta with basil, pine nuts, and parmesan in olive oil. Topping off my meal is a Hot Cappuccino(Php70 + 10%SC).

Starbucks Rockwell is always full, Seatle's Best is gone(or so I thought since I couldn't find it anymore), so having a Press Cafe is a welcome addition to some of my favorite hang out places while having a good read. It would probably serve as my writer's nest too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

DW Cafe: Digital Walker's dining annex

Because I wasn't able to join the benefit dinner last night for Charlie's newly opened cafe in Eastwood, I went by there in the morning to have my breakfast.

To those who doesn't know him, he is my most admired technopreneur not just because the Mac community benefitted a lot from his for his privileged prices but because he has a knack for making things happen.

Oddly located right beside his digital convergence shop like a dining annex, this is probably the reason why it didn't get other fancy names but just DW Cafe, with DW signifying Digital Walker, the main shop right beside it. And this is probably also be the reason why it didn't require heavy elements of branding effort than just taking Digital Walker's outside signage.

The interior is non-intimidating with white tables and chairs under black backdraft accentuated with red trimmings, reminiscent of a modern Japanese cuisine.

The DW Cafe offers a Japanese-style pasta and omurice dishes. Their crowd favorite is what I have ordered, Unagi Pasta(Php255), consisting of fine Fetticini cooked with Unagi, onions, and garnished with carrot and green pepper. The flavor is just right, especially if you're the kind who is enamored with oil-based pasta instead of a creamed ones. Next entree is the Chocolate Caramel(Php95), a chocolatey goodness cake made of layers of caramel mousse topped with frosted chocolate. Concluding my morning meal is the Macadamia Espresso Frappe(Php125), an iced bended frappe made of Macadamia syrup.

Too bad I wasn't able to join the gang due to my other endeavors. It would've been an awesome dinner for a cause, as the proceeds from the donations were meant to support Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders.

Next time, I will probably try the tonkatsu slices in ciabatta and the Japanese Gravy Hamburger Steak.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Romulo Cafe: Fine Filipino Cuisine

Last year, I was able to try out Cerchio Grill & Lounge, an Italian-centric concept of the same group of restauranteurs who brought to you Romulo Cafe. But it was just today that I was able to dine in at Romulo Cafe in spite of the blaring raves of my friends from the scientific community.

Inside the Romulo Cafe, you will be entranced by the quiet, salt-of-the-earth homey atmosphere that is predominantly black and white. From the moment I step inside, all I have in mind was a question "is this made by Ivy Almario?", and yes, I was right. Having dined in lots of restaurant she designed, I already know her signature strokes.

The interior's design elements were mintage, from the chic tables and chairs to the sophisticated design of the floor and ornamented wall prints, everything is but a compliment to an overall art nouveau theme that serves as a perfect backdrop of Carlos P. Romulo's enlarged pictures in his lifetime-- who by the way is the granddad behind the restaurant's brilliant mind, Sandie Squillantini. She opened it more than a year ago.

On our table were delectable entrees starting off with the Boneless Crispy Pata(Php635 + 10%SC) served with eggplant and other spicy garnishes, Tito Greg's Kare Kare(Php395 +10% SC) that has the profuse nutty flavor, Mixed Bicol Express(Php285 + 10% SC) with spices that brings out a tangy taste on squid and shrimp, Bagoong Rice(Php125 + 10% SC) containing slices of tomato and mango sprinkled with shrimp paste, and Green Mango Juice(Php85 + 10% SC).

I find the Bicol Express not that spectacular but at least they were able to concoct the right taste, so does the Mixed Bicol Express which taste like kilawin. The Boneless Crispy Pata though is superb. It is literally bathed with tomato, eggplant, and home made tomato sauce that makes them really rich in all flavors, sweet, spicy, salty, and simply delish.

The menu are heirloom recipes handed down from generations of Romulo family, hence their naming conventions such as Tito Greg's Kare Kare and Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno in which I will probably order next time I come back.

For you who is bent in coming here, read my lips first: RESERVATION IS A MUST. Call these number +632 332 7275, +632 332 7273, and +63 907 995 1111.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe

Right before my gym-ing session, I ensured that I am in a featherweight state to treadmill a 5k run in preparation for the National Geographic Earth Day Run.

So without trepidation, I resolutely march to the quaint little place in the Scout Castor - Tomas Morato area to have my brunch.

The name of the restaurant is Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe.

Not an everyday restaurant with glass doors and fine furnitures, this one is essentially a residential menage with living room transformed into a dining area brimming with private and homey feel. Being nestled in the thick leafy foliage and lush greenery completed its concept of organic and vegan meal.

That day, the table was graced with Greens Vegetarian Barbeque(Php75), sliced gluten in marinade of crushed garlic, freshly ground pepper, pineapple, and soy sauce served with a tangy sweet pickled salad and brown rice, Veggie "Beef" and Broccoli(Php185), barbecue veggie meat combined with fresh broccoli sprinkled with cashew nuts, Roasted Veggies Wrap(Php80), grilled eggplant, onion, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and zucchini, and Sisig(Php140), a mashed tofu, gluten, and a blend of garlic, ginger, onions, and freshly ground pepper making this high protein entree an all-time favorite among its dining patrons. None of the ingredients uses beef, pork, or poultry meats. These are purely greens but you will never notice as they taste like real meat. Even their Chicharon, as I was told, is not really chicharon, and their burgers are veggie concocted.

As my health buff buddy and film critic says "you are what you eat", and he was the one who taught me the habit of drinking Yakult after every meal with meat. This time, however, no Yakult concludes my meal. A hearty and healthy substitute without compromising the taste of a real deal, Green Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe is an alternative green cuisine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lorenzo's Way: a dining culture where taste matters

After my IBM VMWare and Storwize solutions seminar, I immediately headed off to Greenbelt 5 to have my late lunch.

The stop is Lorenzo's Way, a restaurant proliferated by LJC Group, the same resto chain who brought to you Abe, Abe's Farm, Cafe Adriatico, Cafe Hanvana, Fely J's, La Mer, Bistro Remedios, Larry's Cafe Bar, among others.

Lorenzo's Way is a Lorenzo Cruz singing "My Way" concept. This is probably an assortment of his best cuisines to date from his different restaurants. It's essentially his bestseller album, greatest hits, so to speak.

The ambiance is cozy, classy, and sophisticated, and leaning towards a bit mature demographics who doesn't want any compromise taste with quality presentation. The antique wood pillars, leather seats, exquisite paintings, and lighting fixtures is reminiscent to Cafe Adriatico, no less. The jazz lounge music in the background is not just there for no reason, it was to complete the mood of elegance.

On our table are Lengua Estufada(Php395 + 10% SC), a tender beef tongue simmered in a wine sauce with mushrooms and olives and served with steamed rice, Norwegian Salmon(Php475 + 10%SC), a pan-fired fillet of salmon on a bed of sauteed spinach served with lemon butter sauce, Hickory Spare Ribs(Php295 + 10%SC), sweet and spicy barbecue pork spare ribs with a gourmet special sauce, Paella Valencia(Php595 + 10%SC), seafood and meat done the classic Spanish way. If you order Hickory Spare Ribs, make sure that your company is either extremely hungry or has a voracious appetite since the spare ribs are served in profuse amount. The paella is also teeming with shrimp, squid, chicken, clams, and sliced hungarian sausage. This alone is enough to satisfy your meal. House Ice Tea(Php85 + 10% SC) and Fresh Carrot Juice(Php145 + 10%SC) concludes our meal.

Indeed, Lorenzo's Way is a myriad of Larry's signature dishes, crunched into a dining culture where taste matters.

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