Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

I had an early start on this day to complete my errands and I’m so glad it panned out great. It felt like everything fell into place and it was just begging for a little celebration and a happy dance. And so it was decided that I’ll try yet another restaurant here in Podium, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse.

When I entered the restaurant I was greeted and ushered into my seat by their receptionist. This is a very posh restaurant, luxurious seats, and the vibe was very intimate. Good date place I guess if you’re splurging a little bit. Looking around, I saw the wine cellar was behind me and the bar to my left. I was going for a light meal but unfortunately, they didn’t offer the bar menu at lunch time or at this branch. So anyway, I ordered the Wolfgang’s Steak Sandwich, and well.. don’t you roll your eyes on me!

..because it’s me who has to do all the eye rolling with what they served. Well, it wasn’t that appetizing to look at to begin with. Plate came with French fries and onion rings. Fries were ok and onion rings’ batter were a tad on the heavy side. The garnishes included raw onion rings, tomato slice, lettuce, and pickles were stacked neatly on the side, begging for me to put them on the sandwich and eat it like they were meant to be eaten. But I held off on that after trying the bread that was a little tough for me. I had a hard time slicing it with my utensils and didn’t bother to bite off of it. The steak were aptly sliced, had a good sear, very tender, and still pink in the middle. But when I looked under it, the pinkness of the underside had gone, and was replaced with brown, almost well done color. My guess was they placed the steak right on top of a very hot caramelized onions. Sadness.

Verdict: 1.5/5
It just didn’t do it for me, missing the wow factor considering they’re a steakhouse. And I was actually a little excited when I knew that they had their very own meat curing room in the restaurant! Maybe next time I’ll try their actual steak for real. Haha!

Tai Koo HK Roast

There aren’t a lot of restaurants here serving roast duck (or I just haven’t searched enough). It’s a good thing I don’t have to look far and wide for it, like going to Chinatown maybe? Haha because a new restaurant just opened in Podium! Tai Koo HK Roast. A Filipino-owned restaurant aiming to serve authentic Hong Kong style roast duck here in the Philippines (a little research confirmed my first statement, without the side comment, haha).

It was lunch time and I’ll tell you right now, do NOT come here during lunch time. It had the same setup in the old Podium wing, where they have a counter where they take orders and customers pay, the kitchen is directly behind that, and the tables and chairs are scattered in front of their designated, open area. A long line has formed at their single cashier and I noticed a lot of people were seated without plates in front of them. So long line and wait time, but sure, they’re new, let’s give it a shot. I ordered (Ben (ack! That did not just happen!)) Solo Hong Kong Roast Duck Rice and found a spot. I haven’t settled in yet and one of the crew told me the seat was reserved. I didn’t see any sign on the table, which I pointed out but he insisted. I looked at him and asked if he’s asking me to vacate this table because I don’t see any vacant tables around. After a few minutes he transferred me to a newly tidied one. I had to wait for another 20 minutes for my food after I was reseated and with my 1-hr lunch break, I did not appreciate that. I was starting to get cranky at this time. That same crew member perhaps noticed that and I heard him follow up my order without me asking for it haha! Tiger look ftw! I was offered a glass with ice too, utensils, condiments, the works.

And my plate finally came and well, it didn’t feel like I needed to wait 20mins for it. Jasmine rice was topped with roast duck and a Bok Choy leaf. Digging in, I noticed the skin wasn’t crispy at all. The meat was succulent and tasty, though. It’s best paired with their chilli oil (just make sure to get enough, they might take it away from you after 5mins, like in my case haha). Oh and did I mention the abundance of flies? Yeah… managed to kill a fruit fly LOL

Verdict: 1/5
I feel like I talked more about the dining experience than the food. But I can’t help it. Apart from the things I’ve mentioned above, I witnessed 3 men bringing in 6 large Divisoria style plastic bags filled with what looked like takeaway boxes. So they’re not roasting it in house, sure, but are they buying it from some place else? Is this why it’s cheap? Paid around 260Php for this meal. Anyway, there’s a lot to improve on in this new restaurant. Maybe add more crew? And do something about those flies.

The Cook by Hongleepark

Festival Mall has long since started its own makeover by adding more wings around their new activity center. There’s a long way to go to fill those new stalls but restaurants are slowly opening its doors to customers. The Cook by Hongleepark, a fusion restaurant (Italian-Korean), is one of those. I was with my parents then and we decided to eat here for lunch.

The restaurant was divided into 2 sections. On the right was The Cook and on the left was Ho Bing (hey, isn’t this the 1st review I ever did here?!). Since my parents already dined here recently (and they liked it), I chose the dishes they didn’t order so they could compare. I ordered the Seafood Tomato Spaghetti and their Bulgogi Pizza, so we could really scream Italian-Korean fusion! LOL just 2 dishes because the servings are good for 2-3 persons.

The spaghetti was served on a steel serving pan, pretty much giving off the Korean feel right away. I like the presentation, the pasta was swirled and on a heap at the middle and the garlicky squid, shrimp, and clams scattered around it. The seafood wasn’t overcooked, which is great. The pasta wasn’t al dente and the sauce was ok, nothing that will make you jump off your seat. The pizza I liked better. The dough was just the right thickness. Toppings were marinated bulgogi, bell peppers, and cheese.

Verdict: 2/5
Getting a 2 for the 2 dishes they served us. Excellent customer service, the crew was very courteous and helpful and always asked if we wanted refills of their pickled veggies sides. A downside to this place was their soaring high prices and even higher service charge. The disclaimer said the a la carte dishes serve 2-3 persons. We’re not really huge eaters, but I thought they were a little small for their price.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

I’m writing a review this time for Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen. But honestly, this isn’t the 1st time I’ve dined in this restaurant. All the while though, I thought it was. Digging through a year’s worth of Instagram posts, I discovered that I dined at their SM Southmall branch in Las Piñas. And how I came about that branch could very well be an entirely separate story that could hold its own. Lots of great memories there, an international date while enjoying their Ajitama Tonkotsu, the coining and birth of the cutest name ever, and oh! Maybe we’ll touch on some of those in this review. Or maybe not. So yeah, maybe this isn’t just a review for 1 Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, but 2 Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen’s. Hehe.

So unbeknownst to myself at the time, I dined at their Alabang Town Center branch for the 2nd time. And wonderfully, I ordered a different item from the menu - the Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu. And for good measure, and because that’s how ramens should be enjoyed, threw a side of Ajitama Tamago and Gyoza.

Now here’s where the 1st dining experience won over the 2nd one. My ramen’s broth was too salty! It was like drinking liquified salt. It was so horrendous I had to get the attention of their manager and politely ask him if the broth was supposed to be that salty. He was taken aback and he said it shouldn’t be. He then offered to fix my bowl for me and when it was served to me the 2nd time, the saltiness was corrected and I could definitely taste the spicy side of the broth. The noodles, I asked for it to be served super hard, but maybe because of the second trip it had to the kitchen, it sort of affected aesthetically. Compared to my 1st visit a year ago, my bowl was just a joy to eat. Maybe it was their signature bowl speaking for itself or my overall mood affected everything. The ajitama on both occasions, I remember, were done right. Distinctly colored whites and semi formed, soft yolks. The 1st gyoza was better than the 2nd one by leaps and bounds. The 2nd gyoza had a funky after taste to it (yeah, I’ve eaten that many gyozas in my life!). Definitely affecting the overall dining experience, 1st had a better and larger dining area. More chairs, better lighting, and ventilation. The 2nd one felt a little too crammed. 1st branch also had better crew, attentive and very helpful.

Verdict: (I feel like I need to have 2 here)
1st - SM Southmall branch: 3.5
2nd - Alabang Town Center branch: 1.5
They are just two very contrasting experience. On one hand, I had something I really enjoyed and on the other hand, I had something I would definitely take a pass on. Their signature bowl is a must try, maybe just put a little chilli flakes to it if you want a little heat. Their spicy bowl, I’d say is good enough, if served properly. Interesting fact: 1st trip was dated Jan 20, 2017. 2nd was Jan 27, 2018. 1 year and 1 week apart. Happy anniversary, IFR!


Like all other malls that are brand new, they take time to set up the stalls and the stores. The old Podium mall had stores in every floor and the new one seems to be all set to move those old stores in their new places. Like sand in an hourglass, they’re slowly trickling in. Nono’s is not one of those old restaurants though. And that’s part of the reason why I decided to dine here. It’s a chef-owned restaurant specializing on modern Filipino comfort food favorites.

It’s lunch time and the place is packed when I got there. Luckily, I had the last table although it’s one of the two tables outside the restaurant, on the left of the stand where a server is welcoming the guests. Looking at the menu, I knew what I wanted at first look, the Roasted Beef Belly. I told that to the server and she went away to tell the cooks. The other table I think is a business meeting with the chef and the owners, I’m not 100% sure though.

My plate finally arrived after a very long wait. More than 20mins, I sat there, the ice cubes on my glass melting away mixing with water. Almost downed half the bottle. Anyway, the plate had 3 slices of roast beef belly with balsamic drizzle, sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes. There was also a side of green salad and two small saucers of gravy and horseradish cream. The beef slices were rich and soft. The horseradish cream wasn’t so strong and biting. The green salad was ok.

Verdict: 2/5
This could have gotten a 3 but I had to take away some because I didn’t appreciate the long wait and the small bug on my glass when my water was served. Of course I asked for them to replace it. The restaurant has potential. It’s fairly new, so that’s probably why they had a hard time tending to all the customers. Try to get a seat inside the restaurant during non-peak hours.

Hong's Family Restaurant

As if we needed another buffet (well, if you’ve read my last post, we kinda do), here’s another one: Hong’s Family Restaurant in Lahug, Cebu City. ReiMart and I went here after watching Sinulog and I think that’s a good excuse already. Since we did a lot walking and we missed breakfast!

Hong’s is like an old house transformed to a restaurant, at least that’s the vibe I got from it. They had basic chairs and tables, small crew, and a guard outside. The menu was provided right away and we were informed that both of us should pay for the same unlimited dishes if we wanted to get those. You could also ask for the combo, a mix of Chaldobaki (beef) and Sam Gyeop Sal (pork) cuts, instead of ordering each. Unfortunately, they did not have the combo *sadness* so we were forced to get the Unli Sam Gyeop Sal. And of course, we ordered Bibimbap! Just because.

Like typical Korean restaurants, they served the sides first. They had bean sprouts, potato strips, and kimchi to name a few. You can also ask for refills but you have to call and tell them every time by using the buzzer haha! The sam gyeop sal arrived and I thought to myself, these are like huge, fat strips of bacon. Really, huge cutsof pork belly, as in 8in pork belly cuts. ReiMart had to cut them to smaller, bite-size pieces so they would cook faster. There was a stove in the middle of the table, but for some reason, we didn’t use that. They provided us with a portable stove instead. So ReiMart, being the chef between the two of us, did all the cooking and I just hunted for the cooked cuts haha! 

The Bibimbap had better chances of raising the rating for Hong’s. Although it lacked the finesse of an authentic Korean bowl of bibimbap, the flavor was spot on. The rice at the bottom had crisped up and they put enough spice that it didn’t overwhelm the dish.

Verdict: 2/5
I’ve been to Korean restaurants before and this is my first time seeing a cut like that. It was just too thick and we spent some time trying to cut them to smaller and thinner strips. The side dishes were ok, we liked the bean sprouts and kimchi and had multiple refills of those. The bibimbap was very good. Maybe go here if you’re really hungry and hope that they have everything on their menu.

Wakamatsu Yakiniku

First of all, a warm welcome to 2018! And what’s the best way to celebrate it and crush any diet resolutions? Going in buffets of course! So, our 1st victim (or is really the other way around?) is Wakamatsu Yakiniku of Cebu. Flew all the way there to attend my 1st ever Sinulog Festival. Uh-huh, don’t judge. Wakamatsu is a Japanese eat-all-you-can restaurant, a la carte style.

After work, ReiMart, another friend, and myself met at the restaurant with no reservations at all. We’re brave souls, I tell you (but really, please call ahead and get one). We found ourselves waiting for around 15mins for a table to free up and when we got it, well, it wasn’t really a very private one. We shared the section with a Japanese group (or was that Korean, yeah maybe Korean). I just pointed out at some items I wanted to eat, like the beef and pork slices, shrimp for grilling, kimchi, and tuna sashimi. ReiMart just said 1 of each and the server went away. Amazing.

Disappointingly, the service was quite slow. Perhaps because there was a group pf 20 people that came in before us that ransacked the kitchen leaving us with just bits and pieces of the grand-looking dinner I had in mind. The ala carte dishes came in so slow and one by one, that we’re left with nothing else to cook or eat. Even the service water was hard to come by. Maybe if one of us dropped dead they’d notice they hadn’t given us any water, or still, maybe not. The ones that came, tongue, duck, some pork, and chicken slices, were sliced hastily but I’d say just about right with the thickness/thinness. But they all appeared just once. So yeah, so much for eat all you can. The sashimi were all sad looking, like they were standing on the counter for a while. And the maki were so poorly rolled out. Kimchi was ok but that’s not what we came at the restaurant for.

Verdict: 1/5
Sigh. This must be the worst review I had ever done and I’m thinking of scoring it lower, if possible. There was a variety of meats from their menu but sadly, just a few came out of their kitchens. The service was terrible. The ventilation wasn’t working properly, leaving us (or at least me) teary eyed from all the smoke (oh and yes we all smelled like barbecue afterwards). Both my companions said it was better during lunch time, but I don’t know if it’s worth another visit after this. Also, this was the 1st buffet I tried that didn’t make me full, at all, not even 1 bit.

Ban Dao Pearl Restaurant

I've always liked the Marine Gateway complex because it has (almost) everything I want in one place. If I can afford the condos here then I would probably move into this neighbourhood haha

I don't remember when I first tried out the Ban Dao restaurant but it was one of those impromptu dates with my cousin who happens to live nearby. I think we were supposed to watch a movie and we went here for an early lunch.

I've tried most of their dimsum and I would definitely recommend the shrimp rice roll and the xo sauce, the rest were ok, but I was missing the xiao long bao which was conspicuously missing from their menu.

Our usual order consists of the shrimp dumplings, pork siomai, avocado roll - yes I know that's not dimsum but this is Vancouver haha most restaurants have a sprinkling of Japanese food on their fare, my cousin likes the chicken feet and the beef tendon while I enjoy the beef ribs and pork spareribs, the taro with scallop dish is also a crowd favourite. Last time we tried the chicken wings but those weren't really worth it I think, I would still go for Phnom Penh's just for that..

We passed by this place once for dinner and quickly realized that they have a different pricier menu so we skipped it haha Maybe I would come back to try their roasted duck 3 ways and the suckling pig but that requires advanced order so yeah.. not anytime soon..

This will definitely be a go to place for quick dimsum bites, the place is huge and the service is prompt.

Some say it's a bit pricier than most places but I really haven't tried a lot of dimsum joints here to begin with and I feel the preparation here is clean and consistent so I keep coming back.

Rating: 3/5

Café Dome

I don’t remember when I last went to Shangri-La Plaza at Shaw Boulevard. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever did. One reason that I can think of is I always thought of it as a high end mall that I would really not want to spend time in haha because I won’t be happy afterwards if I splurge on anything I bought from there. LOL gee, was I wrong this entire time. While looking for new restaurants to try (I was on mid-shift for a month then so I was able to pass by this place), Café Dome grabbed the spot. It’s an Australian franchise originally serving world class coffee (which I didn’t really know until I read the menu!) but evolved to something more to catch the Filipino market.

The parking in the mall was a little tricky, I think I got to level 7! Fortunately, when I got off the lift, the restaurant was directly on my right. So I found myself seated in an old European interior, nice, comfy seats, and they even have rooms for large groups. Looking around, there aren’t a lot of diners, whoever was there though, all looked important and all the while busy. The server was quick to hand me the menu and I asked for their Roast Beef Belly and their Café Mocha.

The warm coffee came first on a tall cup with sweetener on the side and a bonus of a small cookie! The coffee was ok but it’s not really out of this world. After a few minutes, my lunch plate arrived. Roast beef belly, check, it was rather a small cut though. Rice, check, but I don’t think this was the best option to accompany the star of the dish. Green salad, check, I wanted more though. I liked the mustard vinaigrette dressing. Gravy, check, nothing spectacular here. So after my meal, I had a lot of leftover fat slices, it hasn’t been rendered enough to my liking, like you’re swallowing oil. The rice was barely touched, maybe they have a better chance of nailing this dish if they replaced the carbs.

Verdict: 1.5/5
Well, this is a coffee shop after all, but it didn’t do it justice. The .5 came from the tiny cookie haha! My food was a little underwhelming too, there’s just too much I didn’t like. Pity because the meaty part was nice and soft. I just wasn’t able to enjoy the entirety of it. So better luck next time? If there is one.