Monday, October 31, 2011

F Restaurant at Best Western Premier F1 Hotel

World renowned hotel operator Best Western International Hotel opened up the country's first luxury hotel, Best Western Premier F1 Hotel, located that is located at the Bonifacio Global City. I know there'd be more hotels to come in the area in the coming years as Shangrila and Hyatt Hotel groups are tenaciously laying groundworks for their spots in the area.

Last Sunday, I took my lunch at the Best Western Premier F1 Hotel, a franchise of the Best Western International(BWI) hotel group based in Arizona. The name of the restaurant is F(seemed like they didn't put up much effort in naming the place). And being a franchise, I'm guessing this is where the F stands for as a coded nomenclature, not the F1 Ferrari, and more assertively, not the F calisthenics that you have been thinking on low-grade motel-types.

Or perhaps it stands for Food, and there are the Fine ensemble:

Some main entrees include Tequila Prawn, Sweet and Sour Pork, Orange Lemon Chicken, Jamon Serrano, and Braised Ox Tripe with Chorizo Bilbao.

Mixed Seafood Au Gratin, Roasted Capsicums Cannelini Beans with Crisp Panchetta, Herbed Fried Potatoes, Buttered Broccoli, Salt and Pepper Squid, Beef with Mushroom and Red Wine, and Spicy Salmon with caramelized onion, and Tanguige Brochette.

Their salad section includes mixed greens, Japanese sushi, sashimi and maki, different salami types, salad dressings, and a mixture of fresh fruits.

Aside form the pasta section where you can ask the chef to whip up pasta for you, they have noodles section too, where noodles are prepared according to your liking, and to complement it, they have dimsums too.

When I was a kid, I am only aware of a cheddar cheese and ball of Edam(we fondly call balls of Adam, a classmate of mine told me that Adam grew balls that big after eating the primordial apple), which we consume even without bread. Now as I started to broaden my culinary experiences, I noticed that there were far more than that. There's Camembert, Gouda, Bleu Cheese, Emmental, Brie mong other. You can complement these variant of cheese types with a different variety of breads, Whole Wheat, Multigrain, Broiche Twist, French Baguette, and Sourdough.

Their dessert section includes a Mud Cake Caramel, Blueberry Cheesecake, Creme Caramel, Tres Leches, Black Forrest, Choco Indulgence and a Chocolate fountain. They have a crepe section too where you can ask the chef to prep one for you. Or conclude it with an ice cream, Bitter Sweet, Double Dutch, Vanilla, Pistachio.

And my favorite, Roast Suckling Pig, so tasty, it has the right amount of saltiness to propel my appetite.

And my nirvana favorite, my favorite amongst all favorites, a US Beef Angus Steak.

They surely pass my buffet definition for having a lamb(although a Lamb Chop is what I have been expecting, a Lamb Patty with Rosemary Au Jus is just fine) and an Angus steak.

So let's see what I have been eating, I had a Roast Suckling Pig, a salad of my version that contains hard boiled egg, balsamic vinaigrette, bacon strips, and orange fruit. I picked up raw oyster and shrimp at the salad section, and have the chef baked them for me.

And after devouring lots of Tequila Prawns, I concluded my meal with crepe, fruits, and ice cream.

You can stay at the pool area while cooling down your gastric accelerometer or...

Just stay at the outdoor canopy where you can take your tea while trying to establish a pace of another round.

The restaurant lobby is graced by monolithic circular designed seats in red and black napped finish, reminiscent to roller coaster tracks. To me it looks like "8" of some sort, perhaps either a hotel brand insignia or an indicator of their buffet price range, Php888. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Johnny Rockets: American 70's bistro

It's an American sprit of 69 in the orient coast. It's Johnny Rockets, a Melrose Avenue-based restaurant chain that offers more than just feel-good comfort food but a one of a kind dining experience where Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis music still lives.

Had this been year 1960's, we could have been dining along with the Sicilian mobsters and American wise guys in Thomson automatic submachine guns. Glad that it's not, so the crew can freely dance to their hearts delight.

And since I mentioned it, I actually thought that Filipinos dancing in public would have aggravated our image as Asia's agogo dancing republic, be it Olongapo's strip club to Cebu Pacific's dancing FAs, to the street's dancing traffic enforcers. I just don't think it's a talent we should flaunt without proper stage set up.

After running some errands at the Bonifacio Global City, I went to Johnny Rockets Tomas Morato to have dinner with a college room mate. He just moved to a new company(good for him) with high hopes and a promising career(good for him), so it's our way to enjoy and celebrate.

He ordered Rocket Double(Php495 + 12% SC), comprising of two fresh patties, cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, onion slice, and their brand of special sauce. His order comes along with unlimited fries, something that was easily depleted as we shared it.

Upon seeing the word "bacon", my eyes twinkled and I immediately ordered Bacon Cheddar Double(Php595 + 12% SC). It has a two fresh potatoes, tick bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, onion slice and a special sauce. I added Php30 + 12% SC for a side salad.

I actually thought that the Bacons are spread on the topmost patty only but I was wrong. It's a double patty, double layers of bacon too.

Along with the number of bites we have to make, a bottomless soda(Php110 + 12% SC) should be sufficient to complement our taste buds and rid away the icky factor.

They are a bit pricey though but for burger to burger comparison, I think I love the Mr. Jones better.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bistro Casanova: Dining a charmed life

I am no charmer(as my kumpare Cliff calls it "Estrogen Agitator"), instead I am the antithesis of being one. I soar miles ahead as a man of science but I definitely suck six feet as a knight in shining armor, incapable of even asking a woman's name in a bar while the conversation already extends to the far reaches of the universe. Sorry Cliff, I really am a true blue "Testosterone Blue."

Wishing that I can have at least a bit of Howard Wolowitz's guts, I went to Forbes Town to have my lunch.

Tucked inside the Burgos Circle at the Bonifacio Global City lies an Italian restaurant named Bistro Casanova which serves authentic Italian cuisine, and just like who it is named after, Giacomo Casanova, world's known women's man, I too am hoping that this Italian Job that will change a bit of my scruple.

I started off my lunch with a soup, a Minestrone alla Genovese(vegetable soup with cannellini beans).

Another kick off entree is the Casanova Insalate(a combination of lettuce, cucumber, ham, pineapple, chicken breast and croutons in mustard dressing).

For the pasta, I got Aglio Olio Peperoncino(oil-base pasta with garlic, olive oil, and chill).

Then on to the launching of my full lunch throttle comes a 12" Quatro Stagioni(a pizza combo comprising of four different tastes: Boscaiola, Napoli, Fruittii de Mare, and Casanova).

And there for the main meal, Risoto di Mare that comes with seafood and tomato sauce.

To complement my Risoto, I got Petti di Pollo Spadellati Salvia(chicken breast with pesto cream sauce).

You know me as someone who can't live without dessert, so I ordered two: Panna Cota and...

Concluding my meal is a Mango Tango.

What did I get out of that Quixotic quest? None but a gastronomic satisfaction and a guilty pleasure. It was well worth it for only Php549.

Now I will have my iPhone snooze me for a gym session tomorrow. I must.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Marriott Cafe at Marriott Hotel Manila

Marriott Cafe is a Marriott Hotel Manila's all-day, resident restaurant that serves a myriad of cuisines, from Italian, Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese dishes. It lodges in an internationally known 5-star hotel centered on designing a complete comfort for both business and leisure travelers.

I had myself reserved a week before, and i got into the place at around 12:30PM, buffet starts at 12:00PM. So a 30min latency was I thought to be forgivable since it's Monday, plus it's a lunch time. I was dead wrong. Marriott Cafe was literally full today, which only means that it's not only Filipinos who love buffet but other racial diversities as well. I guess staying guests also dined in as there were so many Caucasians around.

Last October 10th, in line with the anniversary celebration of Marriott Cafe Manila, they are slashing their lunch buffet price to 50% from a regular price of Php1,750, Mondays to Saturday until October 31st.

Sections stratified according to different spectrums of gastronome: Live Cooking station, Salad station, Seafood station, Pastries station, Desserts station, and main entrees station which includes pasta, chicken wings, braised pork, vegetables, and seafood skewer.

Other continental cuisines includes Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino among many others, like Beef stew, Kappa maki, Chicken Consommé, Miso Soup, Tuna hoso, Tuna Shahsimi, Sinigang, Chicken Inasal, Fish Curry, Guisadiong sitaw, Sweet and Sour Fish with Chilli Sauce, Peking Duck. Paneer Burji, Beef Triangle Samosa, White Chicken, Soyed Chicken, Chicken Shawarma, Pork Asado, Hodfan Dried Noodles, Fresh Egg Noodles, Vermicelli Noodles, and Siomai.

My graduated scale on a good buffet does not only lie on the wide array of food feast but on this statement: "a buffet without a steak or a lamb is not a buffet." So the star of the day(drumroll please)…. a US Topblade Steak prepared according to your doneness.

A dessert person that I am is always enamored by the plethora of the sweet varieties: Sugarfree Cheesecake, Bread & Butter Pudding, Chocolate Eclairs, Chocolate Desire, Fruit Tartlets, Opera Slice, Mango Cheesecake, Desire Cake, Brownies, Cream Puff, Kiwi Mousse, Triple Chocolate Mousse, Banana Cake, Raspberry Mousse, Carrot Cake, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Coconut Panacotta.

They also have a variety of fresh fruits and ice cream to feed your gluttonous tendencies.

Let's see what I have eaten. Oh, it's just a tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more I didn't bother taking a picture because I am so hungry.

It's an impressive array of gastronomic goodness. And if you're don't want to overindulge yourself, you can also try CRU Steakhouse.

Smart Netphone 701: Unboxing

Remember that Smart commercial with Martin Nievera? Yes, that Smart Amazing phone commercial. We maybe are not far from reliving the prodigious phone in its generation. Smart once again launched that "branding a Smart logo on phone" concept form their lines of phones.

This time, they maybe barking not on the phones outstanding rafts of features but on the aspect of a lifestyle-on-the-fly. I believe it is a good marketing standpoint as banking on the phone's hardware is short-lived as new features pop up every quarter or so. However, taking stride on the online services is provider-centric.

With SmartNet.Ph, from the defunct MySandbox, allows you to connect with your SmartNet-registered buddies. It is fully integrated with Twitter and Facebook so you can shout out what's in your (in)sanity to all three(twitter, FB, and SNPh).

It also syncs with your Google contacts wit your Smart Global Directory. And the instant messaging system which is akin to the Blackberry BBM is a breeze. Just ask your friends to register to the SmartNet and you're on it.

Other services include ability to check your bill/balance instantaneously, track your current subscribed services, purchase new sets of packages on top of your current packages, reload your prepaid phone without ever going to a Smart loading center, pay your bill without going to the neighborhood payment center.

Other features are a de facto standard on Android 2.2 Froyo firmware version. But the hardware specs are as follows: 600Mhz ARM 11 Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset CPU, 3.5" LCD with 480x800 resolution, 512MB of RAM, Wifi 802.11b/g/n, Wifi hotspot, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, FM Radio tuner, GPS with aGPS support, and Li-Ion 1250mAh battery.

The camera slapped at the back is just 3MP autofocus. So don't expect that it yield very good resolution especially under a low light condition.

I came from a Samsung Captivate i897 Galaxy S so an experienced with a 600Mhz clock speed phone is a bit like a degraded experience. I know as the Captivate is way ahead of its generation, having sported a 1Ghz processor which is blazing fast. I can see little jitters when scrolling. And the Lattitude app which is a standard Android app wouldn't even run.

At a Php9,900 for a prepaid handset from a Smart's retail centers, I honestly think it is a bit of a rip off. It could have been appropriately priced had the price point ranges from Php6-7k. Oh well, TipidCP brand new units had that range, so you can also take that as an option.

Ibayo by Barrio Fiesta: A bistro in the metro

From the tradition of the family buffet specialist, Barrio Fiesta, comes another welcoming addition to their restaurant chain, Ibayo by Barrio Fiesta.

Ibayo either meant "next to" or "opposite of" or "double". Either way, Ibayo is NEXT TO Barrio Fiesta concept which is an a la carte, bistro type dining haven, or an OPPOSITE of being a plain restaurant where people just dine and depart, Ibayo offers a one of a kind watering hole where you can chill it out while having a good conversation. Or it's a best of both world, it's DOUBLE the fun, double the excitement.

Me and my college room mate started it off with one bucket(6bottles) of Coors Light. Since he doesn't really drink, I ended up consuming almost the entire bucket.

Then comes a Bangus Sisig. It taste ok but not stellar class. Pork Sisig, I think, I think is still the best sisig because you can get the optimum crunchiness level.

And of course, the star of the beer smirching session, Crispy Pata, deep-fried pork knuckles cooked Barrio Fiesta way.

For a voucher worth Php470, I guess it was ok. The voucher says it's good for four. Not us. So before buying any voucher from group buying sites, consider your stacking capacity of your pack.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

iOS 5 update: Jumping into the bandwagon

Last week was a daunting as it was delighting week for the Apple as a corporate organization. For one, the demise of one of the greatest CEO of all time, Steve Jobs. Secondly, the launch of the iPhone 4S and consequently the new mobile operating system, iOS 5.

I am no Steve Jobs fanboy, but I admire him for being a marketing genius and a technology trailblazer. There might be technology-enabled services that he didn't pioneer, but at least he was the one to do it right. As of current counting, almost all my mobile concierge is built by Jobs, so does my brother's, and so does my Mom's.

And speaking of the mobile concierge, I upgraded my iPhone into iOS 5 to as a readiness platform for the Siri. Yes, mine is just an iPhone 4 and Apple blatantly trumpeted that Siri only supports A5 chips which is absurd because some of my friends are already using Siri(back in the time when it wasn't yet bought by Apple) on their iPhone 3GS phones. It may come out that announcing that would make an iPhone 4S less-than-stellar product because hardware-wise, there isn't much of the improvement.

So fearing that people will not patronize the iPhone 4S might have compelled them to discard the A4 chip as a processing bed for the Siri. It doesn't even require stringent computing muscles as most of the Siri-integrated services computation is done online, on the server side.

Although I doubt that Siri will not be optimized for non-US-based countries as it uses US based location services like Places, Yelp, WolframAlpha, etc. I am afraid it will not tell me accurately if I ask which is the nearest mall, 7-11, French restaurant, or a Mercury Drug.

Nonetheless, the upgrade brought some rafts of outstanding features:

**Real-time notifications(lock screen and pulldown) is such a lovely sight. Although the lock screen one has been adapted by WinMo 6.0 days and the pulldown by the Android, implementing it in an iOS 5 is "better-late-than-never." However I am hoping that it keeps a cache of the notification displays much like the Android does.

**iMessage is a service akin to the BBM(Blackberry Messanging) but once again, better-late-than-never.

**iCloud services is a computing phenomenon of an on-demand services that stock a repository of data in the storage cloud. It comes along with 5GB of free storage but if that isn't enough for you, you can subscribe a 10GB additional for $20, 20GB for $40, and 50GB for $100 per year. This service can also be done(back and restore) through OTA(Over The Air) method.

**The new weekly view on a Calendar is also implemented.

**Fantastic Mail app features that includes Bold, Italic, Underline, Quote options, and extended Search, mass Marking as Read/Unread, Flag setting, and addition/deletion of mailbox folders.

**Enahnced camera app to include viewfinder grid and a hardware-based button for pressing the shutter. You may use UP button of the volume rocker actually.

**Wifi synchronization with iTunes and the OTA(Over The Air) method of updating the software, which is also a longtime Android technology.

**Twitter is also fully integrated, but I was hoping Facebook as well. The only reason I think why Apple didn't include Facebook is that they may offer same snippet of service as Google's G+.

**Newsstand app which serves as a hub of all your magazine subscriptions.

**Videoplayer is not seated in an all-in-one player(iPod button on previous iOS) but a separate icon already from the music files.

I might ran out of real-estate space if I enumerate the 200 features of the iOS 5 and the what's missing/not-included, so I guess for those who are using iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPod Touch 3G and 4G, you may want to try this out. Back up your files and applications first because this upgrade will wipe them all out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Park Avenue Desserts: A sweet utopia

Chef Buddy Trinidad has a Midas touch on the sweet anatomy that whatever he touches turned out into a heavenly dessert. And his pastry shop slash chocolate bar slash cake coinage, Park Avenue Desserts, has been a treasure trove of anything blissfully sumptuous.

I have been ordering cakes from Park Avenue Desserts since 2005, when their patisserie is still located in Pasay. It was just recently that I discovered that they relocated at Paseo Magallanes while I traverse the Skyway going to Alabang. I have waited that long for them to open up a retail front.

I thought that having a sandwich is a demure way of having a lunch. I was dead wrong. Their Tomato, Basil, and Mozarella Panini(Php180) is not a faux meal and definitely not for the weak gastronome. It's delicious and similarly filling, astutely fitting for the gourmand and the gourmet alike.

Since my all-time favorite cake, Quadruple Chocolate Climax Mousse Cake, isn't serve in retail outlets, Roca Cake(Php150), I thought, would do. I was never wrong. The Roca Cake is a combination of Caramel Cream and Creme Brûlée with chocolate ganache with roasted almonds is another testament to Chef Buddy's skill on effortlessly creating cakes equivalent to divine experiences.

And his choice of plating as shown in my 100% organically brewed coffee(Php80) is also a display of artistry. Even a glass of water comes with an embroidered lace motif. Who else could think about just a mere glass with exorbitant creativity.

The coffee by the way is brewed in small batches so you can be assured of its freshness.

His winning formula? While I study the tabular display of known elements in their atomic structures and quantum composition, Chef Buddy, on the other hand, has a Periodic Table of Desserts. How else can he be wrong in his concoction.

Park Avenue Desserts probably serves metropolitan's finest ensemble of desserts which I can highly recommend to everyone. It's a sweet utopia.

Crocodile-meat burger at Nueve Cafe

I love food. It is the only terrestrial object that gravitates me into wielding something extraordinary, like trying out unspeakable methods of culinary wonder, or traveling far and wide just to taste outlandishly exotic cuisines.

And lately it did. Nueve Cafe, the metro's home for crocodile meat burgers, coaxed me to taste their Indiana Jones-inspired comfort foods. Distance and the monsoon rain couldn't even stop me from traveling from Quezon City all the way to Alabang Zapote to try it out.

Nueve Cafe is located in Wilcon Home Builder's Depot, Alabang Zapote branch, right beside Goodyear Tires Alabang. No worry about parking, they have a spate of parking spaces.

Although I couldn't grasp as to why they put up a cafe inside a Wilcon building, I settled on a thought that this is perhaps a test market. But there's not even a right amount of market demographic to test in the area. Or perhaps they don't want to sensationalize themselves as crocodiles belonged to critically endangered species.

Apart form the Dundee Cheeseburger Burger(Php100), a burger made of 100% pure crocodile meat which naturally lean and low in fat, they also have the crocodile meat in sausage form, like Dundee Sausage in a bun(Php110) that comes in a plain or with cheese variant.

Romi, one of our Project Executives from Germany, said that crocodile meats have a very neutral taste, I don't know if he meant bland. I have known him to be brutally honest and impeccably precise. He has been right all along. I didn't find the burger to be spectacularly delicious. Had there been lamb burgers, I may like it over the crocs.

They also have other comfort foods like Pasta Bolognese, Pasta Carbonara, Pork Steak, Classic Caldereta, Bistek Tagalog, Fillet O Crisp, Chicken Pork Adobo, Classic Beef Burfer, Creamy Chicken Burger, Classic Crab Sandwhich, and Tuna-based clubhouse sandwiches too.

Their all-time favorites include Croc Sisig(Php195), a Pinoy delicacy made of crocodile meat. They also sell raw crocodile meat for Php250 per serving. I don't know how large is that though.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Matsuri: Order-all-you-can Japanese cuisine

From the same buffet innovators who brought to you Dad's Saisaki and Kamayan Restaurants once again displayed their entrepreneurial flare by coming out a Japanese restaurant with the concept "think of the the food you like, then sit and back and relax, we'll bring it on your table."

The restaurant is a cosmopolitan Japanese, Matsuri, located at Tomas Morato near ABS-CBN compound.

The ordering style is similar to the Red Kimono. You pick any food you like on their menu and they'll cook it up for you. You can even pick as often as you want.

We(me and my college room mate) started off our meal with Saisaki, Yaki Soba(ramen noodle with assorted vegetables and oyster sauce), Manhattan Panko Roll, and Califormnia Maki.

Then we REPEATEDLY got ourselves an Ushe Ebi Tempura, Kani Tempura, Chicken Teriyaki, and Aspara Bacon Maki Teriyaki. Our second order was obviously another round of Tempura.

Then followed by Kani Sashimi(crab stick), Tamago(Japanese version of egg omelette), Mixed Kamameshi Rice Pot, and Tempura Crunchy Roll.

We're almost done. Our stomach is not a bottomless pit, so hang on. These are the Matsuri Beef, Creamy Chicken Mushroom Ragout(grilled boneless chicken topped with assorted Japanese mushrooms and asparagus in a creamy Champignon sauce, drizzled with Teriyaki sauce, dusted with Togarashi and freshly-cracked black pepper), Matsuri Salad(a combination of strawberry, blueberry, sliced apples, orange, slivered almonds with Hachimitzu Balsamic Vinaigrette), and Kani Salad(classic Japanese salad with cucumber crab stick, Mango, and Ebiko).

Lastly, for the desserts, we got Chocolate Ice Cream, Muscovado and Vanilla Bean Cream Brûlée, Fresh Fruits in Season, and Gyoza(steamed/fried classic Japanese dumpling).

Never underestimate us when it comes to buffet as there are some orders we devoured but forgot to take note of and are not in the pic. So think about how long our intestines are that when unbridled could even reach up to the moon. For Php595 per head, it was well worth it.

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