Sunday, September 25, 2011

El Prado Restaurant at Hotel Berjaya Manila

Tucked inside the heart of Makati's urban hub is Hotel Berjaya-- a hotel astutely fitting to brandish a hospitality culture of east-meets-west. The name itself sounds like middle eastern, but it is essentially Malaysian-based, under the auspices of Berjaya Group of Companies.

And the restaurant name seated at the second level of the hotel is El Prado Restaurant, incidentally sounding like Mexican. Inside the restaurant you can see huge paintings, vessel-derived, rose-window designs, and wooden furniture pieces. It was cozy enough to enjoy a leisurely meal.

The menu is a bit unsatisfactorily skewed in terms of variety but for a price of Php398 and a free use of swimming pool(from a groupon site), I said, "oh well, I would maximize the pool use anyway."

Main entrees include traditional Filipino stew, Stuffed Milk Fish, Grilled Pork, Sweet & Sour Meatballs, and Chapseuy. However, they serve soup and two salad variants to kick off your meal.

A wide selection of pasta awaits you from Carbonara to Pesto, from Fettuccine to Fussilli, they have it most of them. And since I am a pesto lover, I had the chef made mine. Shown are what I have on my table. Well, some of it. The rest are devoured ruthlessly.

Although they only have few assortment for the antipasto, like halo-halo, fresh fruits(Papaya and Watermelon only) and Filipino desserts(ube jalaya, kuchinta, puto, and other Filipino rice cakes), they are good enough to conclude my meal. Although deep inside my already diabetes-wary body, it is asking for an ice cream, panacota, and blueberry cheese cake.

Just as I thought that I have to maximize the pool service, I withdrew from doing it upon seeing that their pool has stagnant water, and that would make it a breeding paradise for algae and other anaerobic bacteria. Pool picture is grabbed from the Berjaya Hotel website. I didn't bother getting inside the glass door to the pool to snap it.

And I would like to commend the staff for the warm and efficient service. After all, there were only three tables(including mine) they were serving that time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Snackaroo Steak: No frill steakhouse

I don't get it. Nowhere can you see snack foods being served, so it's probably because you only get to shell out a snack-worth of money to pay for a humongous steak that literally fill the entire plate at Snackaroo, hence they call this quaint little, hole-in-the-wall find as Snackaroo.

The line between my gourmet and gourmand tendencies hangs in the balance as I have tasted the Snackaroo steak. I mean, it may not bear the same quality meats certified by USDA or CAB standards and served in upscale steakhouses like Elbert Steak Room, Gulliver's Steak (Eastern Hotel), Melo's Steakhouse, Mamou Serendra, The Fireplace(Hyatt Hotel), CRU Steakhouse(Marriott Hotel), and Prince Albert Rotisserie, but if you're leaning towards the gourmand side, you wouldn't mind dining at Snackaroo.

My colleague at work kidded that for all I know it might be horse meat. LoL. I hope not. But just as I thought Everything at Steak serve the cheapest steak in huge slab, I was wrong. Snackaroo serve even bigger at a lesser price.

But unlike Everything at Steak which serves a whole gamut of meat products from steaks to back ribs, Snackaroo only serve beef, chicken, and pork variants, like steaks and liempo. Although, they have other beef and pork-based offerings like Papaitan na Baka, Beef Caldereta, Sisig, and Bopis.

Snackaroo steak are char-broiled and not pan-seared, unlike other commercial steak houses. You can basically taste the difference between a food cooked in a natural fire than the ones which are not. But the steak doesn't come with free side dishes, only a gravy and soup.

It's a no frill, no bells-and-whitles place, the ambiance of Snackaroo is simply a carinderia serving steak.

If you want to drink water and not soda, better bring your own bottle of Absolute or Perrier Mineral Water. The water they serve is a faucet water. :)

But for a Php130 price point, you get what you'd paid for. For the steak and two cups of rice, I only paid Php160.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CCA Kitchen(Cravings): Week-End Roast Buffet

You know how my appetite had grown so inevitably monstrous and into an epic proportion. Why wouldn't it be when almost all restaurants are going gaga over buffet set ups. Even fine dining took a dip into the smorgasbord waters, like Lolo Dad's Brasserie Antipasto Buffet.

And just as I finished up beastly buffet-ing at the Bar360 at Resorts World Manila, that evening I travelled all the way to Eastwood to try out CCA Kitchen's(by Cravings) Week-End Roast Buffet.

This isn't my first time at CCA Kitchen, in fact I have been dining here regularly, just how regular I am dining at Causeway Seafood Restaurant, Timog or King Chef Banawe. And I have blogged about this here and here.

Their buffet spread includes eat-all-you-can salad and soup, unlimited pasta specials, and two featured roast favorites. That week-end, I was darn lucky to have gotten Roast Turkey and Roast Pork. It's available only on Saturdays and Sundays from August 27 to October 16 on 11am-2pm and 6pm-9pm window.

It was good enough for its price of Php625 but if you think you can't optimize it on your unsparing tummy space, you may want to try their Unlimited Cake and Coffee for just Php150. That's close to spending one cup of coffee at known coffee shops.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Resorts World Manila: Asia's newest playground

Asia's newest playground, Resorts World Manila(RWM), opened its door to a leisure-seeking public a year(or two) back. And being a harbinger of an urban lifestyle, I won't be left behind by the happenings in the metro.

Dubbed as the the country's rising glitzy destination and an exciting tourist hub, RWM has the amenities one would look for in an entertainment colony, with the exclusivity feel out of their membership privilege.

Snapping a picture is STRICTLY PROHIBITED inside the Casino so forgive me if some pictures don't yield favorable angles. And that's why my narcissistic moment is taken outside, where The Sound of Music(showing starting 15th of October) standees are located at.

The groupon voucher that I got, worth Php588, includes Breakfast or Lunch Buffet, Php300 worth of Match&Play Certificate, and 5+1 beer. I was a bit disappointed with the buffet since it only has a Pork Sisig, Pasta, and a Chapsuey as their main entrees. But when I get there, the there were only three tables piranha-ing the buffet, so that may have given them a reason not to profusely serve a wider buffet spread as some might just go to waste. Oh well, they could have invited me everyday. Apart from the main entrees, they have Coffee Jelly, a Soup, and bottomless Iced Tea, Apple Juice, Coffee, or Tea.

Scouring the entire expanse of the Casino and not finding any Dance Revo or Daytona Racing to play with, instead just a plethora of slot machines on all forms and sizes, I decided not to use my Php1,000 Match & Play Certificate(the lady at the Tour Counter gave me a Php1,000 worth in exchange of some wink, kidding). I mean, why can't they put arcade and stuff inside casino for those video game-immersed adults.

So I just sauntered at the Bar360 seated at the center of the Casino, and have my entire afternoon spiced up by a smooth jazz band. You know know how I love easy listening and smooth jazz that it's probably the only music genre in my iPhone. And because I love the music so much, I finished all 6cans of San Miguel Premium.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sennheiser MM50 IP with Mic: The 'Coffee-mate' of your iPhone

I'm a big-headed mammal, blame it on my genetic composition. I sprung from an ancestral root of the Nephilims. Just kidding, but yes, my family lineage has tall offsprings, and that's us.

I have big head and so does my ear that the default earphone package of iPhone just fell down from my ears. It's cumbersome because whenever I watch documentaries that I downloaded into my iPhone, one or both earphones just fell.

So I scoured the entire mall to look for a decent earphone. And look what I have found, Sennheiser MM50 IP with Mic (IP probably stands for iPhone). Just what I wanted for my iPhone, I can answer my callers in just a press of a button.

Having had worked from a audio-video industry for 5years, and having met fellow audiophiles, both from work and at an enthusiasts circle, I know what a good acoustic engineering is composed of.

The MM50 IP has a balanced audio. Without having to turn on the iPhone 4's equalizer setting, it's able to churn out strong bass response but also a good lower bass settings. Able to pic the crisp details of any quality audio track, it's able to deliver the midrange frequencies quite impeccably. They have excellent leakage control as well as absurdly low distortion level.

It comes with two other pairs of buds, small and large. My gripes though are that it doesn't have a cord guard except for the plug, and unlike Monster Turbine, it has no purse or protective case to boot, but for its price of Php2,650, I may rest the cudgel for its superb audio quality. Truly a Sennheiser spirit!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sofitel Luxury Hotel and Spiral Buffet

First, the room with a view. This one's facing the Marina area of the Manila Bay. Spectacular sight. You can bring a chair and table at a veranda, sip a glass of wine, and just get bedazzled with the glistening sea.

The Spiral Buffet -- the country's biggest buffet with a widest heap of selections to choose from, Mediterranean, Korean, Chinese, japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, American, Italian, French, and Indian food.

The table, the food -- Dimsum, Siopao, Fruit Salad, Veggies, Bacons, Croissants, Maki/Sushi, and a glass of champagne.

Typical breakfast assortments -- pastries(they've got all varieties you can think of), cereals(they got everything), breakfast delights(from Filipino meat products to French breads to just anything), and fruits(you can even have them in shake or smoothie preparation.

Topping off your meal -- whether fruits or wines, it's like they've know how to read minds, so they put in everything what a human brain can think of for a breakfast conclusion.

iPhone Photography

Because at times, lugging around a dSLR has become a liability especially if you're a shutterbug like me who always like to snap and capture priceless moments, wherever, whenever.

However, malls nowadays are restricting dSLR users to just shot pictures on their field without necessary permits. Malls, like Greenbelt for example, have guards trying to wane you whenever you pass by the garden(or any "shutterbuggable") area thinking that you'd take picture of the composite elements of the scenic surroundings. Weird is that these guards wouldn't mind you snapping a piece using your phone cam or your P&S.

So I either ended up bringing my iPhone 4 since it's the one I can just easily draw out from my pants. My P&S camera is neatly tucked inside my bag so I'm sure to miss a second whenever I need to shot something.

This is one of my iPhone photography takes. See how critical the moment is? A missed second would mean that the subject would have flown somewhere, or already beyond the reaches of my lens.

Sunset Bay Buffet at Sofitel Luxury Hotel

A grand Manila bay sundown, sliced through the glistening sea, and the breeze switch as it spurn. Oh well, not that day. It was raining so what could have been a deluxe Sunset bay buffet was moved indoor, at a huge tent they call Sunset Pavilion, just right beside the pool area where the buffet was ought to be held at.

If stare outside fro the glass, you can still see the Manila Bay, albeit on its sullen state. So while I can't control the weather, I just control my mood to it. After all, it's the buffet and the cultural performance that matters.

The epic culinary saga continues.

There were two sets of performers that night, the cultural performers dancing a melange of Filipino dances from all over the archipelago, and a band performing classical, bossa nova, and smooth jazz fusion.

I was thinking that the cultural show with the extravagant flare of costume would make my night, it ends up that I like the band more, perhaps because I love the music genre(evidently, my iPhone is filled with those type of music).

I noticed that the foreign nationals right beside my table were so immersed with the cultural show, especially when they started dancing Maglalatik, Pandango sa Ilaw, and Tinikling. One of them gladly joined the Tinikling dance.

As far as my rustic memory can recall, the buffet includes, Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Mussels, Grilled Lamb Chop, Hungarian Sausage, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Salmon, Potato Au Gratin, Grilled Squid, Corn Kernel, Carbonara, Ratatouille.

And if a US steak and lechon alone wouldn't make you crave for more, I don't know what else does.

On the other side of the table were the Kilawins varieties, fresh salad that you can DIY, and some fruits to boot like Watermelon, Pineapple, Mango, Melon, and Papaya.

The far side includes desserts section with plethora of cheesecakes, black forest, and a lot more that I forgot their names. They also have Filipino desserts in fact like Ube Halaya and more. Of course, the sweet tongue in me picked cheesecakes, and a DIY halo halo with two scoops of ice cream on top.

To top off your meal, they also serve overflowing soda of your choice, iced tea, San Mig Light, and Red Horse Beer. But since I brought a bottle of wine in my room, I opted for an iced tea

It was a feast that had me drink a lot of wine to speed up my digestion because I will have to take the hotel's breakfast buffet upon waking up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grill Republic: Bigfood encounter

It was a bright and cloudy day at The Fort but surprisingly gloomy along Quezon City-C5 area last Sunday when we headed at Metrowalk. Inauspiciously gloomy that was, but nothing can stop our gastronome from anchoring our(me and my college room mate wayback engineering school) gargantuan appetite.

And it's that same alpha appetite that was to be blamed for the disappearance of the two sets of humongous 10inch Monster Burger, Potato Chips, and a pitcher of cocktail for just Php399 care of a groupon voucher.

Grill Republic provides a breezy feel to kick-back and unwind with its resort type setting, centering on a leaf floor design and aquamarine tapestry. The bar is located at the ground floor, serving the usual flares of alcoholic beverages. Such a comfortable ambiance that is, including its al fresco dining. Upstairs you have stereotype high chairs, but they also have a Kotatsu-styled tables and low chairs and a Cabana-like setting.

They have been known in the metro for providing big food encounters with their Monster Burger as their flagship entree that they claim should be able to serve roughly 4 people. Well, these restauranteurs haven't really known our kind. LoL.

The burger is just just ok, but the 2.2lbs patty easily easily gets crumbled. I wasn't expecting a gourmet experience in this side of the metro, instead a gourmand. The drinks is either a choice of a pitcher of iced tea or a cocktail drink. Since we have overflowing iced tea and lemon juice in the office, we opted for a cocktail. His was Aklan Sling which is their version of Mudslide and tasted a lot like Baileys and mine was Grill Rep Sling which tasted like an Illusion. I love Grill Rep Sling than the Aklan Sling because latter tastes like an Ovaltine dropped with few mixes of gin.

If you're within Ortigas area, and a huge group, their gourmand serving will surely satisfy your gluttonous tendencies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blackwood Bistro at Venice Piazza

New York slash Paris slash Tokyo-inspired bistro, Blackwood Bistro, at Venice Piazza, is where I headed at to have my lunch last Sunday.

I have always been drawn by the eclectic blue-lit tree like fixture in their counter but never had a chance to try their menu. My friends had been trying to drag me because of their famous Buffalo Crab Claws to which they claim to be their brimming pride as the only restaurant in the metro that has it.

Now is finally the time, or so I thought.

Blackwood Bistro's design elements were leaning towards a slope of virility, with the presence of dark-colored woods, maverick paintings. and anything masculine. Even wine racks slapped on their walls were a telltale sign of brave and bold market demography that they are serving. But it's a design motley of New York and Paris urban chill-out bar. I shouldn't be surprised since the chefs were schooled in that side of the continent.

I had myself a 4course menu that includes: Bowl of French Onion Soup, Ceasar Salad, 350g US Angus Ribeye, Tiramisu, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon wine. All of them for just Php1,500, yebaaahh, ℅ a groupon voucher I bought.

This is a place where their comfort food is as superb as their excellent service. I started it off with French Onion soup, so broth topped with cheesy baguette, then followed by Ceasar Salad, sprinkled with bacon bits, French bread strip, a semi-cooked egg, with a creamy lemon basil dressing. It's simply delectable. And their 350g US Angus steak, cooked under medium well is just right and I can taste the juicy meat extract(in other words cholesterol?). The Tiramusi is not too sweet but not bland, just right for a sumptuous dessert to conclude your meal.

I was thinking I can still try their Buffalo Crab Claws but I don't have stomach space anymore, so I listed it down as my next-episode encounter.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Riviera Cafe at Heritage Hotel

After a weeklong of grueling nights that had me render overtime for at least 3hours on a daily basis, since Monday, or since I was moved into another department for a different project, I thought of rewarding myself. Not for a job well done(I felt like I am far from having tangible achievements and sterling success, so don't pop up that champagne yet), but for a seemingly endless struggles I wither from my bosses of global and local business residency.

So my pick was Riviera Cafe seated at Heritage Hotel along Pasay City. Never mind the fact that it's a few meters away from Baclaran, or that it is situated along the main thoroughfare, call it a contemporary chic cafe.

The cafe boasts of a bountiful feast from the rich textures of different cuisines, Malay, Singaporean, Filipino, Japanese, French, Italian, European, among others.

They have got almost what you can think of in a buffet and for an Php878(50% off from the group buying site), the price itself a deal buster.

To start off your meal, they have salad station with Asian Chicken Noodle Salad with Sweet Soy Sesame Vinaigrette, or make a DIY one with different dressing to choose from. And you can match it up with an assortment of pastries and cheese and ham that includes Beef Pastrami, Florentiner, Beef Salami, Gottinger, Chicken Ham, etc.

If you'd like to move into the main courses, you can hit Baked Tangigue, Kare Kare, Spicy Pork, Paksiw na Pata for the Filipino fares. You can also have a Sauted Beef with Bittergourd,

If you'd like to pair it up with soup, they have Salted Vegetable Duck Soup or Black Beans, Peanut, and Chicken Feet Soup.

If you're into Chinese and Japanese, they have sushi bar and Japanese maki, or let the chefs concoct you with Asian noodles of different noodle varieties. You can also get a Fried Pork Spring Roll, Fried Wanton, and Fried Vegetable Samosa. Or better yet, go for Kung Poh Chicken, Harkaw and Machang.

You can also hit the live cooking stations that contains oysters, shrimp, Burong Sili, Vegetarian Curry, Atchara, and Burong Mangga.

Other continental choices were Hokkien Mee, Stir Fried Hofan, Steamed Fish with Light Soya Sauce, Lamp Chop with Mint Gravy Sauce, Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, Fish Batter with tartar Sauce, Avocado with Crabstick Terrine, Roast Beef Platter in Hot Bean sauce, Baked Fish Fillet with Mango Tandori Sauce, and Hainanese and Roast Chicken.

At the live cooking station, they also serve flambé sizzling plates, grilled fresh strips of Tuna, Salmon Belly, Chikuwa, Fish Balls, Cream Dory, Blue Marlin, Chicken Satay, Beef Strips, Fish Dumpling, Crab Balls, Lamb and Chicken.

If having those would be enough o satisfy you, conclude it in the dessert section with Creme Brûlée, New York Cheese Cake, Flourless Cake, White Forest, Fruit Tartlette, Profitero Roll, Banana Cake, Kueh Lapis Sponge cake, Oatmeal Cookies, Choco Crinkles, Fresh fruits, or make your own Halo Halo topped with ice cream on top.

With bottomless iced tea to compliment it, it was a feast!!!

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