Peaceful Restaurant

I've wanted to try this resto for a while because it was featured at drives, diners and dives but it required a bus or a train ride to get there so my lazy self scratched it off my list. Last month however my cousin told me that they opened a new branch along Kingsway and since that was in the hood, I went ahead and sampled the goods..

Fieri's order in his show was the beef roll, noodles and dumplings but of course I didn't try them all in one sitting, the menu had many tempting dishes so I had a hard time choosing. I ended up ordering the stir fried hand pulled noodles, general tsao's chicken and the xiao long bao - no I wasn't hungry at that time, I'm just really a bottomless pit haha or I was hungry for something else that couldn't be filled..

Anyway, on to the food.. I'm not much of a noodle person but after tasting and making fresh made pasta at home, I'm impressed when dishes served at restos are made fresh so I like the hand pulled noodle dish.. I want to try making one from scratch too!

I was expecting the general tsao chicken to be crunchy and then coated with sauce but this dish ended up swimming with sauce and that somehow made the chicken a bit soggy.. I'd like to recreate this with my baked chicken wings next time

The xlb always amazes me, I mean soup in a dimsum? first time I tried it I think I burned my tongue and spilled soup all over the place haha this time I was careful not to do the same mistake.. I like the vinegar.. but I prefer a stronger black vinegar.. this dish was ok but I've had better..

I pass by this part of town when I need to pick up a package from Canada post so my second visit was in order when I received another claim stub in my mailbox. This time I ordered the pork and shrimp dumplings because that's one of the specialities, I still haven't worked myself up to order the beef roll, maybe on my third visit.. I also got the honey glazed spareribs because I'm a sucker for spareribs haha

Honey glazed spareribs came in first and I wasn't disappointed but it didn't taste spectacular and at almost 15$ it's double the prices of other restos serving the same dish..

Pork and shrimp dumplings took a while to come and when it finally did I was a bit scratch a lot disappointed, the filling wasn't tasty and the wrapper was too thick.. I pushed myself to finish one piece and had the rest to go.. definitely not a dish to hype about..

Would I go back a third time? Maybe, just to finally try that beef roll and put it to peaceful rest ;)

Overall, it's a place to go to for hand pulled noodles but the other dishes were underwhelming.



Verdict:
N: 3/5

Hobing Korean Dessert Café

(Hi there! Grace at your service. I’ll try to not to be too wordy with my reviews (but just might slip from time to time, starting now). Don’t worry, I only go to work during TTh so this won’t get flooded with posts haha oh and of course the occasional weekend bingeing… btw, nice to meet everyone!)

SM Megamall has a new wing! I know what you’re thinking, like it needed another one, but yeah, they put it up anyway. I’ve only been to a few restaurants there and I’ve been asked to write reviews to share with everyone here. Hmm.. Maybe that wasn’t a good introduction at all! Hey, don’t make me visit each and every restaurant there okay?! LOL

The dessert place has a very cozy ambiance *insert K-drama scene here*. Wooden chairs and tables, white walls, curt staff.. the place is small so they set up chairs outside the café. I chose the one with the cushion and the farthest from the counter and other customers so I could enjoy my dessert in peace (but no, not really, I just needed an excuse to take a selfie with my food).

And after 15mins, the monstrous dessert came. It’s so pretty to look at and DEFINITELY Instagram-able.  

Mango Cheese Bingsu

Shaved milk ice lined the bottom of the bowl, layered with mangoes and cheese(cake?) chunks. The shaved ice was reminiscent of the one I tried in Myeongdong from my SK trip last November. I would guess that they laced each layer with milk and cheese sauce, too. It was filled to the brim and the bowl was lined with, you guessed it, more mangoes, to hold everything in place. It was topped with a very generous portion of whipped cream, sprinkled with thinly sliced almonds, and finally drizzled with mango sauce. Overall taste was not too sweet, which I really like. The mangoes appeared to be very ripe, but they had a slight sour taste, which went well with the sweetness of milk. Cheesecake was ok and I like how it turned almost gummy after being chilled over ice. 

I’ve only an hour at most for lunch breaks and my office is at Discovery Suites. It’s a 5-10 minute walk, depending on your pace really, but since the café took its sweet time to prepare my dessert, I had to double up the pace so I get to my office (NOT) on time. And writing this review, almost 3hrs later, I still feel so full.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Good place for dessert, actually, scratch that. Good place for whenever because it’s dessert, you got to have it any time. Just visit it with a friend or two! And please share a regular bowl. Take your time enjoying the dessert. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. J

Ippudo

I’ve come to develop a fascination with Japanese cuisine by watching a lot of animé shows. One thing I’ve noticed there is how they showcase ramen. It doesn’t seem to change, whatever show I’m watching. Served on a simple ramen stand or small restaurant with wooden chairs and tables. Shout one order of ramen and that funny looking old man who’s best known for his ramen does his magic, glistening broth, firm noodles, delightful toppings, and what’s even crazier is how one bowl solves every problem there is in the world (yeah maybe they went a little overboard there, haha). I’m really excited now to find such a place in Japan and just try it for myself! Ugh.

But for now, restaurants like Ippudo in 3F Fashion Hall in Megamall will have to do. I arrived early for lunch as usual to avoid the crowd, and it’s such a nice time to visit, because all the servers are very attentive to your needs. Like there’s always a 3:1 ratio. They were quick to give me my house tea and glass of cold water, just in case I change my mind halfway in enjoying my ramen. And every time an order comes from the kitchen, they shout it out and I jump a little. I wrote that naively in the comments section, and what do you know, my server went to my table and explained how it was the culture in Japan. Of course. See? Attentive.

I ordered the Karaka Special Ramen, with deliciously spicy tonkatsu broth, extra hard noodles, amazing pork belly slices, the epitome of soft boiled egg, sheets of seaweed, and spring onion greens. And I can’t stress enough how I can’t find a single thing to criticize in that bowl (oh wait, I remember saying, this egg doesn’t look soft boiled and it doesn’t have that earthy color after supposedly being soaked in broth - but when I halved it, that egg was to die for, yes I ate everything bad I said about it).

I almost forgot about my appetizer - Ippudo’s Hakata Style Gyoza which also deserves a place in the high rollers. Hailing from Hakata, another region in Southern Japan according to research, they have perfected making their plump gyoza on cast iron, making the bottom part so crispy you’d think they fried it. The filling is very satisfying with its subtle taste.

Verdict: 4/5
So yeah, I finished everything. And going back to that phenomenon I was talking about at the start of this review.. Did it solve all my problems? No, but it sure did make me forget about them for a good while. I still believe the best ramen can be found in Japan, so I’m putting a huge difference in scores when I put 5 on that some unassuming ramen stand.. But while that’s still in the future, can we go back here please?!

New Bombay


There’s this Indian restaurant I pass by everyday going to work in Vancouver. I remember not breathing when I walk in front of it because of the pungent smell coming from their kitchen. And I can just imagine how their stock room looks like. I’d be dead (with my allergic rhinitis) if I come any closer to the door. But I don’t know what happened, maybe it’s the daily dose of Indian spices that I started noticing I soon didn’t mind the smell anymore. I did try some Indian restaurants eventually and found it ok. Still won’t go out like how you smelled going in though. 

So that’s what I think of when I see this restaurant in Podium Mall. But whenever I pass it, I don’t get any strong odors, but they had the decors going for them. All those deep red, brown, and yellow shades just force you to think of Indian food. At my table and reviewing the menu, I ordered the Chicken Shahjani which is boneless chicken sautéed in masala, cooked with onion-tomato gravy, and finally topped with omelette.

The masala mixed with the gravy gave it with a lighter flavor, unlike the usual Indian food that’s like a bomb of spices in your mouth. The omelette topping was so sad looking, that I want to give it back to the chef and just ask them to leave it out of the dish. The overall flavor was a little salty for my taste (and that’s a lot coming from me since we hail from a salt-loving bunch). It becomes bearable when paired with naan. The servers also appear very sleepy and don’t smile a lot, they’re all in a pout! The location is nice, on 5F of the mall, near that gourmet hotdog stand.


Verdict: 2/5 
I’m not a fan of the food, or just the one I ordered. Maybe there are other dishes worth going back for, but not anytime soon, at least for me. Oh and to totally forget about this meal, I bought some (chocolate and calamansi) ice cream to numb my pain. From a different store, of course. And I think this was the saving grace for my meal :)

Terry’s Selection

Terry’s Selection is a hidden treasure tucked away in the lower level of Podium Mall. If it weren’t for poeticnook’s searching prowess, we wouldn’t be able to find this restaurant at all. It was even my first time going at the lower level of this mall, I always thought it was reserved for their underground parking. But I was surprised it was lined up with several utility and special services stores and at the very end, there stood Terry’s. When entering their store, you will be welcomed with top of the line products which are hard to find in your normal grocery store. It looked like a huge delicatessen for me, worthy of another visit. And then I turned right towards their restaurant section. It was a little early for lunch and I was the first customer there.

I ordered the Callos ala Andaluza right away. I’ve tasted poeticnook’s cooking and honestly, that one’s the one to beat (but yes, yes, I know we’re here for Terry’s). Terry’s Callos had soft enough tripe, Spanish chorizo, olives, chickpeas, and Jamón Serrano. Since I didn’t order any rice to accompany this dish, they gave me complimentary bread. I think the chefs here were able to make the tripe shine and be the star of the dish, as it’s meant to be. The only downside to this dish was its serving size. I guess it was for sharing.


By the end of the meal, my dessert, Flan de la Abuela, translating to Grandmother’s Flan, is a sweet, custard treat. I’m a snob when it comes to flans, since my mother happens to make the best flan I ever tasted. I get annoyed with the small bubbles stuck in the custard for cooking it on high heat. This one’s not perfect but it had great taste.

Verdict: 3/5

I did like the interior of the restaurant, intimate and cozy, perfect for family gatherings. The crew were all very attentive, but maybe because I was the only customer (yeah, nobody came in after me, and still noone after I left! Hmm..) Since I have tasted better callos and flan, minus 2 for those already. But I do want to go back to their delicatessen and check what’s out there. Maybe visit the restaurant again, but not anytime soon.

Schmidt’s Gourmet Hotdogs

When I first saw this in Podium, I remembered that character from New Girl sitcom. I like his character because he’s funny and relatable even if he had really quirky pet peeves. So yes, I think I’m already biased with this one. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to try this but I guess I never had the chance to, until now.

Schmidt’s Gourmet Hotdogs is located on the 5th floor of Podium Mall (yes, you will see a lot of reviews coming from here and SM Megamall, because both are in close proximity of my office, so suck it up). I wouldn’t qualify it as a restaurant, it’s more like a glorified stand, really. Their kitchen is quite small and it’s just beside the counter, and their chairs and tables for dine-in customers are on the hallway. But the other restaurants beside it (there are at least 5 more), had the same set up, so I guess they were trying to go for an al fresco dining style, although they are inside the mall. Kudos to the glass ceiling, I’ll give them that.


When I asked for their best seller, they recommended the Coney Island Chillidog. I was torn between The Juilus (which had bacon) and this one, but since they recommended it, I went with that. The Coney Island Chillidog had a hotdog on a regular bun, with flavourful ground beef, sour cream, cheese sauce, and sliced jalapeños as toppings. I paired it with their house blend iced tea which is really refreshing! I couldn’t make out the fruity after taste it had. It went well with the hotdog, too.


Verdict: 3/5

Wasn’t a fan of the bun especially after hearing other reviews, I was a bit disappointed about it. I was expecting it to be crisp outside and soft in the inside. I think it was pedestrian or am I being too harsh, because it’s just a bun, hello. I liked the hotdog, maybe they could start offering hotdogs minus the bun! Could go back and try that other ‘dog, The Julius because bacon! And will order XL iced tea and another to go!

Sushi Ninja

Japanese cuisine has a lot to offer the world and maybe one of my favorites to-date. I haven’t been to Japan to try the food there but I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of places you could get good Japanese food, if you just know where to look. Being sent to Vancouver for work and spending most bingeing times with poeticnook, we’ve uncovered these gems all over the city. And for me, that’s the closest I could get to authentic Japanese food for now. I don’t even want to try any here in Manila, because I’m sure it will not be at par with the ones we’ve tried.

But then, Sushi Ninja came. And to my surprise, it’s just near the place where I live. It’s situated at Westgate Center, Filinvest Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, which is just a 5min drive from our place. At first, I was really on the fence in trying this restaurant because of concerns of taste, quality of handling, and overall cleanliness. I guess curiosity killed my doubts, i mean the cat.


To start, I ordered the Tuna Poké from their special menu. I know that’s not so Japanese, it’s actually a Hawaiian dish, haha! But might as well hit two birds with one stone. Maybe the poké bowl was too much for one person, definitely looks like it’s for sharing. Or if you really dig poké I guess this is alright. The salmon was fresh and was tossed in some light teriyaki sauce, garnished with black and white sesame seeds and onion leeks. Next I had the Uni Nigiri. Now I’ve tasted uni imported fresh from Japan and golly, I will bet my life that this isn’t one of those but nevertheless, it’s fresh and had that sweet, delicate taste. Better than your average local uni.

The place had a Japanese vibe to it. Decorations made from bamboo lined the walls reminiscent of the animé shows I love to watch. The servers were polite and were all attentive. Food came in fast. Value for money is fantastic, I just paid a little over 500Php for the two dished I ordered.

Verdict: 3.5/5

There are a few others in the menu that needs to be tried like the mentaiko noodles and chirashi. And since this is just close to my place, I will definitely go back.

House of Wagyu Stone Grill

I’m going to come clean and say this out in the open: I’ve recently just started appreciating steak! Yes, I’m one of those people who orders well done steak and have the phrase “Order the chicken you steak hating bastard!” shouted at me. Probably because it’s not an everyday staple at home. Or beef’s just not my preferred meat. And to get really good steak served to you, you have to pay quite a price for it. I know, excuses. But it’s true! 4000Php for a meal?! Sheesh. Anyway, my credit card company had this promo of 50% off for House of Wagyu Stone Grill and after some egging by poeticnook, I decided to try it out.

I ordered the Wagyu Rib Eye Grade 8 Set Meal from the promo menu, because hey, if I’m going to splurge, then go for the best one, right? (Not my words haha) So the set includes soup of the day, Caesar salad, 220g Premium Rib Eye Wagyu Grade 8 on stone grill (yeah, I have to type all of that again haha) with vegetables, Creme Brûlée for dessert, and hot tea (to aid with digestion of this meal for two).

Soup of the Day. This lovely pumpkin soup was sweet and just right to greet my taste buds. It’s light and delicate and had herbed olive oil, croutons, and freshly cracked pepper (available upon request). I remember saying “hi there you pretty thing:” before i started taking it in haha.

Caesar salad. The salad was something you’d find served in any restaurants. Pretty basic with lettuce tossed in Caesar dressing, a little bit too much to my liking as it turned out to be on the soggy end, croutons, freshly grated Parmesan, and bacon bits.

Premium Rib Eye Wagyu Grade 8 on stone grill. Yes I did it again, it had to be done. The servers had this drill of explaining how to cook the steak in the stone grill. It was fascinating to watch them flip the meat after searing one side. I was entranced with the sizzling sound that I even had to record it while it was searing (Ack! What’s happening to me?!) The server did the initial searing and I was left alone to enjoy my steak. So this is how it looked like before i butchered it to pieces, did a few more searing, and devoured all that 220g of beef goodness. The steak itself was superb, I don’t know if you should take my word for it, but for a non-steak lover, I was able to finish all of it. *pats back* It had salt and pepper rub but I like to have food a bit on salty side, so they gave me extra salt. The vegetables that accompanied the steak were nice. I loved the mashed potatoes, found little chunks of potatoes which added texture to it. The rest were just blanched just right so they were still on the crispy side. I specifically loved the cherry tomato, eating it whole and bursting it in my mouth was a nice treat. Too childish, I know.

Creme Brûlée. And now we come to dessert! The ultimate test to this dish is to smack a spoon right in the center and hear that crack of the hard caramel. This Creme Brûlée passed that test, please check my Instagram post for the video. The custard base was delicate and held its shape and it’s just a delight to eat (under 5minutes? LOL)

Verdict: 4/5

All in all, it was a great dining experience. You just have to ignore the servers who are constantly eyeing your table like a vulture to take away any unused things in your table or offer you anything they have in the kitchen. I guess we can’t really blame them, they’re just doing their job. Value for money, I still wouldn’t go to it on a normal day, haha, but if the promo is still on, you could just convince me to go again. The restaurant had a very intimate feel to it, suitable for dates. Soft music is playing in the background and there were several paintings hanging on the wall, too! They display their “steak collection” in their refrigerator which lined the left side of the wall right at the entrance of the restaurant, similar to those steak houses in Vancouver. House of Wagyu Stone Grill is located at the 5th floor of Podium Mall in ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City, PH.

Zark's burger

Mom and I finally visited this place after buying a new set of fans for our rooms because several of them decided to overheat and die for the summer. After depositing our purchases in the car, we proceeded to the upper ground floor where the place is situated near the vicinity of our favorite Japanese restaurant in SM Cebu.

Zark's Burger is one of the better burger joints back in manila with so many branches scattered all over the metro. And after hearing so much about it from folks, we secretly wished that the place did not disappoint. And it didn't, thank goodness.

Anyhow, the ambiance of the place is good, and service is spot on. The design on the wall was what you could expect from a burger shop; a zoom in of one of their specialty burgers with fries on the side. Their menu has an extensive list of burgers; there was a variety of catchy names like "Tombstone" and "Jawbreaker", to a bacon wrapped burger.

The food arrived at a timely manner; Mom got for herself a Blue cheese burger while I got myself a Zark's ultimate burger. the staff were courteous enough to refill our glasses with water when we ran out too. The food itself is loads better than jollibee or burger king with their secret "langhap sarap" flavor (something I would prefer not to have in any of my meals due to the taste lingering hours after your meal).



Zark's burgers
SM City Cebu


Verdict: 4.5/5
A: Pretty spot on on how a burger should taste. Burgers on par with better tasting burger places like "burger joint" and "flame it!" Would definitely visit soon.