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.

Elbert’s Sandwiches

Ever heard of that fancy restaurant that serves premium steak cuts for as much as a whopping 6500Php per dinner plate? That high end steak house in Makati, Elbert’s Steak Room? Yeah, that one! This is NOT a review for that, mind you, but for its spin off, Elbert’s Sandwiches. Formerly located in Powerplant Mall, it has graced the south (raise the roof!) at Commerce Center, Alabang. Moving away from its mother restaurant, Elbert’s Sandwiches serves traditional American cuisine specializing in cheesesteaks and, seriously, need I say more?!

When I entered the joint, I was greeted by the staff hiding behind the counter. Almost jumped at being greeted because the place was virtually empty. I knew what I wanted, their Classic American Cheesesteak!!!! And I added provolone for good measure. And it certainly did not disappoint. It was served warm and wrapped in a clean, white paper. All it’s 8inches bun trying to hold all those steak goodness, topped with melted cheese (more like oozing), and caramelized onions. Ugh. Typing all that and looking at the picture makes my mouth all watery again! I think I took several photos with it, yes, even selfies, like it was some sort of a celebrity, check my IG haha! I mean, just look at it!

And not trying so hard on its own, I also ordered their superb Onion Rings. It didn’t take away anything from the cheesesteak experience, just accentuated it. It came with mayo and ketchup, so yeah, whichever rocks your boat. I tried them both, and they’re good either way.

Verdict: 4.5/5
I mean WOW! I Can I give them a 5?! Seriously I would, but I just tried their 2 dishes so far haha! And I wish I had a larger stomach to eat the entirety of it, but no. I had half of it to go haha! This is definitely, DEFINITELY worth another visit. If this humble joint serves food on this quality, I’m really intrigued with their mother restaurant. Someday soon I hope!

Ice Flower

I’ve (not) recently reviewed a similar restaurant before that served bingsu, page here. And just that we’re clear, I am rating this restaurant against that one. So here goes. Welcome to Ice Flower!

Apart from a family of 4 near the snow machine (yes, they have this makeshift playground that has a snow machine where children can play, just children, boo!), I was the only customer inside the restaurant. There was a very serious looking Korean guy sitting on one of the tables where his laptop and phone were on display. Later on, I would determine he’s the owner because he inspected my bingsu before I was called (they have that buzzer thing) and reprimanded the employees when I had gone back to my table.

The chairs and tables were of mismatched colors and forms while the walls were just smoothened cement perhaps to accentuate the seats and tables to full effect? But honestly, the vibe was quite sad, unlike other bingsu shops you might have visited. Maybe it just looked a little unfinished. Or I didn’t get the concept haha!

Going back to my dessert, I realized I ordered the wrong size because when I looked up at their menu, right after the Mango Cheesecake, the prices for S M L sizes were written neatly, and at the very end, came the cheapest price and it read Cup. I ordered the small bingsu but found it really huge for someone who recently had a heavy lunch. Anyway, that’s a note for future visits. The bingsu came with the standard shaved milk ice, a little on the sour side mango bits, melt in your mouth cheesecake cubes, sliced almonds, and the mango sauce drizzle of course. It tasted just right and they gave me an extra small cup of milk for my perusal in case I needed it to be more milky or sweeter.

Verdict: 2/5
Presentation was so-so, I had better! My favorite part was the cheesecake, it was so yummy, I had to stop myself from asking more of that instead of the milk LOL the ambience of the shop could be improved, that goes without saying, and maybe have the owner smile a little, to attract more customers, no?


It’s a nice feeling when you start your day doing all your errands and then finishing it off with a nice trip to a new restaurant you haven’t tried before. At a new mall along Daang Hari, stands the Evia Lifestyle Center, which gives off the European vibe here in the south. It’s a new mall, still lots of empty stalls, very limited parking (but I think they’re doing something about it already), and they have this huge activity grounds inside and at the very heart of the mall. It’s surrounded by stores in a circular fashion, glass ceiling for natural light which is very cool since they have this enormous Christmas tree as the main attraction. So why was I here? To visit Bagoong ni Sisa and hoard goodies haha. Mission accomplished on that one!

After roaming around the mall, my mom, sister, and I decided to eat lunch somewhere, some place new, as I’m trying to tear them away those fastfood joints they so love. And after searching online, I found this restaurant: Teppanya. A Japanese joint that has a tagline of “It’s not just dinner. It’s entertainment!” And they weren’t kidding. Customers are seated on a bar-like setting surrounding the iron griddle where the chef will cook your meal. In our case, since there were just 3 of us, we were grouped with a family of 5. The host gave us the menu and suggested items to order for first timers like us. So I ordered the set meal (came with salad, soup, and stir-fry veggies) for mom and sis, beef, chicken, and pork for protein, and I ordered salmon and uni nigiri for myself.

The chef then proceeded in cooking our food in front of us, staring with the fried rice. Interestingly, that took the most time to cook, as there was an assortment of ingredients in it. Eggs, carrots, sauces.. enter the eggs show. Chef did a number of tricks with the raw egg in shell, throwing it in the air with his ladles, catching it with his toque blanche, AND not breaking it (imagine if it broke on his head haha!). He also made some cutesy heart forms on the griddle, maybe that would be amusing if his audience were all couples (at this point, I was really thinking he’s just playing with our food, see I called us his audience already!). Then came the cooking of the proteins. First the pork, drizzled with a medley of sauces, making it sweet and tangy. It was cooked nicely, it wasn’t tough nor under-seasoned. The chicken came next, cooking it to perfection with what I reckon the same sauce as the pork. It wasn’t overcooked, still juicy. He cut both in cubes and continued cooking it for a few more seconds before serving. And the beef came last, before going any further he asked us what temperature should he cook our beef, I told him medium rare, and the father from the other group said well done and I winced in pain at that, even giving him a quick glance which initially I thought he didn’t see. I mean, I wanted to ask "did you not see how he cooked the other meat or do you really just want to eat rubber?" LOL and not 5mins after, just before the chef starts cooking their portion, he changes his mind and made it medium rare, too. Haha! That felt like that was a small victory for the steak gods.

Verdict: 3/5 
Considering the live show and the flavor and cook on our meat, this restaurant would have good marks. The crew were informative, helpful, and courteous. But I have to pull it down a little because I just didn’t like the narrow aisles inside the restaurant, customers were more or less bumping on each other. They also lacked proper ventilation, we pretty much came out the restaurant smelling like the food we ate haha! Lastly, I thought they could do something about the wait time before the service began. Maybe give it another go next time when they’re more accustomed to serving multiple groups of diners.

Café D'Asie

We haven’t gone out as a family to eat out on luxurious buffets at all. I mean, sure, we very occasionally dine at Yakimix, but since we’d rather go to other fastfood restos for price, Café D’Asie sure is an improvement in all levels. Located at the 2nd floor of The Bellevue Hotel in Alabang, we had our family dinner here to kick off the Christmas season. And of course, everyone was dolled up! We went on a Saturday night to accommodate everyone’s schedule. We didn’t tell Mamang where we were going so she kept asking, even our parents.. just told them to dress up nicely.

Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted by a floor to ceiling mirror just outside the lifts and we had to snap a few pictures that will be posted later on our parents’ Facebook accounts LOL we arrived at around 630PM, not much guests yet, which is perfect. Oh and did I mention their grand chandelier? It was so big it filled the hole they made on the 2nd floor overlooking the ground floor. We took some pictures of that too before heading on our table. Priorities, I know!

We were seated on a table for 7 reserved by yours truly, and behind the ice cream section! Destiny, haha! We were able to navigate through the food aisles with ease and pick the best parts. After going through the aisles, I went to my favorite section: Japanese. Initially, I was disappointed in not seeing the sashimi I wanted, but fresh from all the customer rights fiasco with our internet provider, of course I had to do something. I asked the chef there if they didn’t have sashimi anywhere, and was overjoyed when she said they do. She then asked for how many people, and I said 7. I think she managed to involuntarily swallow there haha poor chef. And I pointed to our table, and not 10mins later, at least 50 salmon slices were given to our table. I’d basically be happy just eating this that my father and I basically ate half of the plate before my sisters had a go with it haha!

My other plates were a medley of what I had to pick through the rest of the dishes. Some maki, ebi tempura, mixed veggies, and cajun shrimp first. They were all a little basic, nothing jumping out of me and the cajun shrimp was overcooked so I didn’t go seconds for that. The roast beef and roast pork were superb! They can be eaten without the sauce but I like to smother mine with peppercorn and mushroom gravy. I requested for a plate of that too with great ease, so I really have to give it to the servers/chefs here. They’re eager to please and fatten up all their customers, just ask. Haha! The dessert section was enormous too, but just picked some blueberry cheesecake, profiteroles, marshmallow on chocolate, and truffles. Stay away from the truffles, they’re too sweet! The ice cream corner was just behind us, easy access. I like how they had someone stationed there to serve you, you don’t have to work your biceps for a much needed scoop. And they had a cotton candy maker, too! Too bad the colored sugar turned up a little bitter from all the coloring.

Verdict: 3/5
Rating it this way for ease of going through the aisles, ambience, service, and food quality. Of course the food selection could be improved by adding more dishes, like steak! All in all, family enjoyed the time here, photos, laughter, and sharing everywhere. Crew also informed us of discounted price for senior citizen and free parking for the car that brought Mamang in! Definitely worth another visit. Happy holidays, guys!

Red Kitchen + Bar

Missing Red Fish Blue Fish from Victoria and as a challenge to make the lightest beer batter, I tried to make my very own version of fish and chips at home. Since we don’t like frying (yeah, we’d rather bake anything), I decided to fry the fish one side at a time. It did crisp up nicely and like the commercially prepared version, you have to eat it right away. Else, it would turn out like a soggy, sad (and did I say soggy and sad yet) dish. Luckily, there’s a place where I can get something close to RFBF here in Manila: Red Kitchen + Bar.

 Nestled along Festival Mall’s Riverpark, it’s the 1st restaurant you’ll see from Corporate Ave, and that’s probably why I don’t “really see” it LOL I remember reading signs for customer parking in front of it but I don’t really understand it as I’m driving by and looking out for pedestrians that might just decide to cross the street. Well, I’m glad I finally get to try dining here. Ordered the Seafood Chowder to start and it was yummy and creamy. Did get lots of seafood like clams and the likes, but had to slow down a bit on that for my main of England Fish and Chips. The beer batter was super light and crispy, obviously just got out of the deep fryer, almost killed my tastebuds there! Fish was lightly seasoned with chili powder before being dipped in the batter. Batter was golden brown and crisp, fish wasn’t overcooked. It was accompanied with wasabi-mayo dipping sauce. Try to hold a little bit there so as not to overpower the fish so much. The fries were ok, had better, and came with ketchup.

Verdict: 3/5
If you’re needing a quick fish and chips fix, this wouldn’t be so bad. I kinda didn’t look at the whole menu, so I can’t comment on the rest. The restaurant was cozy with couches along their whole wall, red cups (matching the name), and looks very spacious since they have a 2nd floor. Good decoration and it feels very homey. Hmm, but it is a bar.. so I don’t know. Haha! Maybe it’s a little confused at that part.

Mighty Quinn’s

Continuing our quest to take down all restos in SM Megamall (we’re running almost half a year now!), here’s another 1 we’ve slain: Mighty Quinn’s. Born and raised in NYC, it found its way here in Manila, doing what they do best, slow cookin’ on fire and wood. Oh yeah, even painted it all over their wall to brag about it!

I ordered the Beef Brisket with Dirty Rice and sat closest to the entrance, unfortunately, cell reception is so bad inside their resto. I came in early as usual to avoid the crowd. Maybe too early as I saw some people (I think they’re the owners of the franchise) measuring something on the floor and walls, maybe they plan on doing some redecorations? But the whole place seem quite new to me. When my plate came, it was what I expected it to be. No fuss, just plain good old (3 maybe 4 slices of) beef drizzled with just the right amount of their fantastic bbq sauce (I recommend not to add any more), a cup of dirty rice (basically fried rice with a little sauce and bits and pieces of beef), and a variety of pickles (cucumber, onion, and cabbage, yes, cabbage!). The brisket was of course the star of the dish, I can’t take away my eyes from them! Very nice rub that charred from the cooking nicely. Meat was tender and oh so delectable. And I’m just all new to this beef-lovin’ thing! The pickles did its job of balancing the flavor out, help you slow down on the flavorful meat when you need it the most. The rice, you could do without, but hey, this is Manila!

Verdict: 4/5
This resto deserves another trip just to make sure it isn’t a 1-hit wonder haha! I’d love to see them offer this plate with other side dishes, maybe potato mash? Or more veggies? Or yeah pickles haha! The crew were very friendly, too. Definitely going back here.

Eduardo's Peri Peri Chicken

SM Southmall is a 7km drive from our house, you might think that it’s just a more or less 10min drive, but no, due to traffic congestion, and the recent ASEAN meetings being held here, it became a 1hr drive. Yes, for 7km. So when I arrived, I quickly went on with what I had set out to do. Baking supplies store for kitchen stuff, grocery for pasalubong, and department store for clothes. After those, I went on to the food strip at the back. Almost all of the restaurants, we’ve been to already, save this one: Eduardo’s Peri Peri Chicken.

It was a little late for lunch so there were not a lot of diners and I was able to get a seat right away. They had wooden chairs and tables that went up to the back, opening to the al fresco side of the restaurant. It looked like a low key fast food chain whose best sellers were their burger and of course, chicken. I ordered the combo meal of a quarter peri peri chicken, rice (which I asked not to serve), side of corn and carrots, and iced tea.

The chicken was so-so, the rub on the chicken was not too spicy and needing that oomph. They did have 2 bottles of sauces on the table, one is bbq and the other is spicy. The spicy sauce didn’t do the trick no matter how much I smothered it on my chicken. The meat was not fall off the bone, but at least it wasn’t too dry as well. For the price, I guess it was good enough. My total bill was 160Php. 

Verdict: 2/5 
The meal was a little plain and could be improved. They could develop their sauces more to bring the chicken on a different level. The crew was attentive and catered to all your needs even if you didn’t ask for it, which I think is a sign of goof customer service.


Earlier this year, construction of some new building started in front our office. One sunny Wednesday, as I was walking along ADB Avenue-Doña Julia Vargas, I noticed a new opening to the right of Podium, along ADB, confused as I knew there was a couple cafés at its place, but I kept walking. And then I saw a similar looking entrance along DJV, and I thought, they might be connected or something. And when I went back to the office, I decided to try and pass through and I was right haha! That, ladies and gentlemen, was how I discovered Nikkei, a restaurant offering Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine. And the day came to finally try it!

Looking at the appies, I decided to try the Scallop Mozzarella, because you know.. scallops and mozzarella? The cheese was grated and served aburi-style, with chopped onion leeks on top. These babies were served on 2 white soup spoons sitting on top of contrasting black stone plate. Looks nice, no? Disappeared fast, too!

For sushi, I ordered a medley of Uni and Salmon Nigiri. The uni was local, frozen day-old, but still fresh (yes, I asked the server all these details, because I don’t want to suffer through another disappointing sushi!). What I liked about this pair was they topped it with Salmon Ikura! Do you know how expensive that is here?! Haha! I also ordered Salmon Nigiri.. fish color was ok and tasted fresh which is great.

After all that, of course I still wanted more. Or maybe I was just super hungry then? LOL anyway I asked the server what maki roll they recommend and she said the Crispy Salmon Skin Maki, so I ordered that. Yeah, it was extra crispy, which the chef assured (I was sitting at the bar haha). They had some sauce (bbq?) drizzled on it, sweet and tangy.

Verdict: 2.5/5 
I’m giving this score because I liked the ones I ordered, but yeah I know I said earlier that it’s a fusion restaurant, and I didn’t try anything from the other side. LOL Sushi is good, quality is there, but of course you could get that from other restos, too. I like that the crew here are very attentive to your needs and questions, even made good recommendations. I’m leaving the other half of their menu unrated for now. Reason to go back, yeah?


Bocadillos is a kiosk in Chef’s Avenue in Festival Mall that offers Mexican fusion food. We all know this cuisine can leave you running to the washroom to wash your hands after eating but it seems Bocadillos found a solution for that. Instead of serving their yummy fillings and sauces in tortillas, they wrap it in a sandwich like fashion which makes it easier and tidier to consume.

There’s quite a selection of Mexican treats from quesadilla, to burritos, to tacos, to nachos, and as an addition, wings and pasta! Yes, pasta. Leave it to Filipinos to infuse anything with a little bit of everything haha but I didn’t order any of that since we always have that for Mexican. Come their best seller, chimichanga. It’s a deep fried burrito that’s quite a popular Tex-Mex with a wide range of ingredients.

I ordered the Chicken Chimichanga but was told it wasn’t available so I got the Beef Chimichanga instead. It had beef, corn kernels, green and red bell peppers, and cheese with Mexican red sauce all wrapped in a tortilla deep fried to perfection. And the most amazing part? Just costs 90Php. Yep, a gastronomic treat that will fit anyone’s budget. And it tastes amazing! The crunch was delightful and the filling generous. I had the Cucumber Lemonade to accompany it and it’s just sublime!

Verdict: 3/5
For a kiosk, it has great potential. If given the proper publicity, it might gain traction in the long run and be something than just a kiosk. We ordered take away from them as well, but weren’t able to consume it right away and that’s a shame, really. So for next time, order something else and consume it right away!

Mati's Meat and Bread

Mati’s Meat and Bread is one of the first few restaurants that rose on the River Side, part of Festival Mall’s more scenic view overlooking a small river with live fish and turtles and an amphitheater. It’s a delight to come to this part of the mall because I always find it less crowded.

When I came in, they have this chalkboard menu from floor to ceiling. It’s a nice addition to their homey, family-style restaurant décor. The walls were red and accentuated with green paintings. Brick stone pillars littered the corners giving way to floor to ceiling glass walls that helps a lot with the lighting. There’s a second floor but I wasn’t able to check that out because I immediately sat on a table by the window for the best view.

Today was steak day so I ordered the Classic Ribeye Steak, medium temperature. It was supposed to be served with mashed potatoes (which I asked to be held off) and peas and carrots, with gravy on the side. It was a little underwhelming to look at because the cut of the meat was terrible, it was almost paper thin. But when I cut through the meat, it was tender and tasted nice. There weren’t tough parts, just soft and tender all the way through. But still.. I wouldn’t call that a steak.

Verdict: 1.5/5
The restaurant is nice, if you’d like some peace and quiet come here early for brunch, just order something else from the menu.


When I think of bafun uni, I usually relate that to the best place on Earth, Vancouver. Yep. This is where I first had the taste of this very delectable, succulent seafood treat. And once you taste it, there’s no going back. Suddenly, the local version just doesn’t come at par with them. Imagine my delight when I found it here, in Manila! Just a stone throw’s away from my house! Miyazaki is a new restaurant in Molito Complex in Alabang. If you’re coming from the main road adjacent to Ayala Corporate Center, it’s easy to miss it because it’s on the left side of an uphill entrance to the vicinity. I had to walk back to get here under the scorching sun. I came in at exactly 11am and had to practically knock on their glass doors and beg them to let me in LOL. Little did I know, it will all be worth it. 

Servers came to my table offering me the menu, a glass of water, and just hovering here and there, a few steps away to give me my much needed space. I looked at their menus, they gave me two, 1st is with illustrations (maybe for someone who’s not Japanese cuisine fluent, so they know what they’re getting haha) but it was a little incomplete compared to the 2nd one, where it’s just a plain textbook from start to end. That second menu was packed with their long list of dishes, I know it’s a bad sign, because you might think they don’t have a specialty, but really! Let go of all your inhibitions. I hailed a server and ordered. Even for the price, I was expecting they will serve local uni, so I asked my server to confirm and not raise my hopes up at the same time, but she gave me an indignant and resounding “No, ma’am, we serve bafun uni!” I had to repeat it, those last two words, like a poor mimic, I’m pretty sure I garbled them too, but she nodded again “Yes, ma’am, bafun uni.” That’s great! I told her.

And now the wait, looking around the resto, there were wooden chairs and tables, and wooden decors hanging on the wall and ceiling. I’m thinking they’re channeling a small, cozy Japanese resto and I’m so glad I dined here. My Tempura Uni came first. These were rolls of bafun uni (for days) wrapped by a single sheet of nori, dipped in their tempura batter, and then deep fried. The exterior was quite crunchy and the uni inside was untouched and glorious! Still sweet and delicate and ugh. Any uni lover would love this. When it comes to tempura, this is the bomb.

And for my main dish, ta da! Salmon Uni Don. Its name is so great, I have to type it again like this: Salmon. Uni. Don. The salmon sashimi could easily and completely wrap your finger, no, two fingers! And you could tie it together with a knot! Evenly and uniformly sliced, they were arranged in a fan like manner on my bowl on top of that magnificent Japanese rice, which stood out on its own really, being properly cooked and seasoned. And of course, that bowl was generously filled with my personal favorite, bafun uni. And oh! I feel like I’m back in Vancouver (but nah)! This bowl was adorned with gari, wasabi, nori strips, and a green leaf. Ain’t she pretty?

I was really quite full from the meal even though I didn’t finish the rice, I know, please don’t kill me, but I just have to try their Matcha Ice Cream with Beans. When I asked the server for it, she said it was available and immediately went to get me some. And mysteriously it came to me, that sweet little pot holding the green, ice cream goodness, with dry ice making it more interesting as it comes nearer and nearer.. and well you just have to take a video of it first! Something to go up on Instagram LOL

Verdict: 4.25/5
I’d gamble that this resto is probably the highest rating I'll give to a Japanese restaurant here in Manila, scratch that, the whole Philippines! I need to check all my reviews for that, because as long as Japanese restos are concerned, this has set the bar really high. It’s a little pricey but you must pay up for something so valuable, yes? Overall taste was great and I’d guarantee you’d enjoy it here. I simply can’t stop thinking of it! Seriously. Please take me with you! Or come on, I'll take you!


Entering this restaurant that offers Mexican/Latin American cuisine, I was greeted by the staff with “Olâ! Welcome to Gringo!” Which was pronounced by the staff as “green go”, it's a bit too slang, right? So when I heard it, I chuckled. Wooden chairs, wooden tables, wooden table napkin holders, felt like I’m in some Mexican al fresco dining restaurant. But since I’m wearing a girly office attire, I seated myself on a couch haha! The staff was fast in giving me the menu and providing me a glass of water. I already knew what I wanted so I called their attention again.

I ordered a Quarter Southern Spice Chicken after asking how it's cooked. Server said it’s baked and grilled which was fantastic. I requested for thigh part because thigh part. 🙃 I had 2 side dishes that came with it, I chose Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Mushroom. After a few minutes, my chicken arrived, I tasted my sides, but noticed they gave me wings instead! Called their attention and they were quick to make it right.

I got to say the chicken was tender, moist, and really packed with flavor. There were 2 sauces that accompanied it, spicy and lemon herb. They weren’t as overpowering as I thought they would be, and the chicken was still be great even without them. The roasted eggplant was superb and very filling. It’s creamy and seasoned well. The garlic mushroom on the other hand was a little plain for me.

Verdict: 3.5/5
Would have given a 4 if they got my order right the first time, no biggie. A sign of good chicken would be the following: great rub, flavorful meat, and my favorite, fall off the bone. And I found that with Gringo. Visit them at 3F Atrium Wing of SM Megamall soon!

Bistro Sakana

An underrated Yaletown gem.

Sushi places in Vancouver is a dime a dozen, I seriously ate more sushi in Van city than in Japan. So in a city of raw fish on rice, it's hard to find one that stands out, enter Bistro Sakana. I discovered this restaurant during Dine out Vancouver, a winter gimmick that encourages people to take out their jackets and brave the cold and snow to try out prix fixe menu offered by restaurants so that the industry won't die out during this season. 

Their dine out feast was definitely worth getting hypothermia for but unfortunately it's a one time seasonal fare that you won't be able to order on their regular menu so I didn't bother to come back after that. One summer evening however, while waiting for the Minami dinner reservation and after sampling the much hyped liquid nitrogen ice cream from Mister, I passed by Bistro to see if there's anything new in their menu, and guess what, they have a daily changing special menu for fish straight from Japan, the bafun uni stood out which I never really tried outside of Sushi Bar Maumi and Masayoshi so it was a welcome sight to know that there's another place where this can be had, Toshi was supposedly offering it too but it wasn't available when I went there, and that's another overhyped restaurant altogether but that's another story.

So on to Bistro and its limited special menu, I ordered the uni, wagyu, salmon and tuna trio, and a few others, all of them were definitely exceptional that the Minami dinner had to be cancelled. The sake flight was also an interesting way to get acquainted with different types of gradually more potent poison, one after the other. 

A few days later, hankering for another uni fix, Bistro failed to deliver, apparently it's not everyday that they have this dish and to prevent further disappointment it's best to call for availability before heading there, so I got their calling card to be sure. This third visit was not as satisfying as the first two but then again maybe because I've already had my fill of dinner at Minami so I wasn't really hankering for anything else but uni. I ordered ikura and a few others from their regular menu and tried the wagyu again but somehow their wagyu was not as good as the previous one, there were a few chewy parts.. I also tried aburi which paled in comparison to Miku. 

I usually want to make a few visits before giving my final rating and I think I've already decided that Bistro will definitely be one of my go to places if I want some special sushi from Japan, I'll just remember to call them first and check for availability before heading there. 

Verdict: 4/5

Captain's Boil

The test of a good restaurant is if it is consistent in pushing out good dishes and if it improves in the stuff they need to work on based on customer reviews or well just based on their experience. I've been to Captain's Boil five times in the past 8 months (yes that's why I can't fit in my jeans anymore haha) three times at their Kingsway branch, once at their Richmond location, and once at their Yonge branch during my Toronto visit last month. I've ordered different items from their menu on each occasion and I think the only ones I haven't tried yet are the clams (because I'm afraid they'll be chewy) and the chicken slices (because hey why go to a seafood boil if you're going to get chicken!! haha).

This review is a summary of all those dishes I tried.


Captain's Boil - probably the best choice to have a balanced taste of spicy buttery and garlic goodness
Cajun - hotter than the Captain's Boil
Lemon Pepper - a bit bland for my taste, might be good for those who don't want to overpower the seafood taste or those afraid of chili
Garlic Sauce - I tried this on the shrimp but I missed the spice, this should be the choice for the faint of heart.

If you like eating with your hands wrapped in plastic gloves and devouring seafood swimming in sauce served inside plastic bags then this is definitely the place for you. The first time I tried this kind of dining was in California at Kickin' Crab and Craw Daddy and Boiling Crab, what can I say, I'm not a fan of getting food inside plastic bag but it works if you don't mind getting messy, which is probably what's gonna happen anyway when you're eating seafood and cracking shells here and there.. is it worth another visit? Sure! Especially if you don't want to have that mess in the comforts of your dining room, otherwise I say just go buy fresh seafood from the market then cook them at home.

Verdict: 3.5/5


a Japanese street food take on the usual hotdog.

I'm not really much of a hotdog sandwich fan, I mean I like hotdogs on a stick but the bun is a killer for me, I'm not a bread person so I usually discard this part, it does serve as a nice holder for your hotdogs when sticks aren't available so I guess it has some uses.

Japadog started out as a food cart a few years back and I remember the infamous lineups at Burrard just to try these kurobota pork goodness. My favourite is the terimayo (with teriyaki, mayo and seaweed toppings) and the oroshi (with grated radish and soy sauce). I also tried the okonomi (with bonito flakes) but it was a bit too plain for me.

So far I've visited two sit down branches, one at Robson and the other one at McArthur Glenn outlets, I liked the latter one better because it's more airy and spacious. You can also sample all their hotdogs on a platter, without the bun, which I should like theoretically but somehow it's nothing special without all those toppings.

All in all, a Vancouver visit is never complete without trying out this hotdog, it's an east meets west concoction that defines the culture of this city. It's almost like a signature dish like the Chicago dogs although not quite yet.

Verdict: 3/5


A Yoshinoya alternative  

I've always been a fan of Yoshinoya from when I first tried it in Manila, to when it became a comfort food when I was working in Tokyo, and then nostalgic pit stops in California, so imagine my disappointment when I found out there's no Yoshinoya branch in Vancouver. 

Good thing I discovered GyudonYa, it fits the bill and offers a lot more..
Stewed tender beef bacon slices with white onion on a bed of rice and topped with pickled ginger, that's how I remember a good bowl of gyudon should be. As a sister company of Chosun Korean BBQ, this restaurant offers a few more fare other than beef bowls, it also has karubi, chirasi, kimchi, gyoza and a few nigiri. I've visited this place thrice and always came out satisfied. Although the place is small, the service is fast and the food tastes better than what other restaurants would give you for the same $. 

If you're tired of the usual Japadog which is just two stores away from GyudonYa, then I suggest you give this gem a visit.

Verdict: 4/5