Café Marco

First of all, congratulations ReiMart! Everyone, this is his 3rd degree. Graduating from UP, you get a sablay every graduation. He has 3 now. That’s why I dedicate him the song Hari ng Sablay. LOL and to celebrate this event, we drove to Marco Polo where their restaurant, Café Marco, was waiting with their buffet tables all set up.

As expected with hotels, the whole interior was lavishly lit and spacious. The chairs and tables were comfortable enough for diners to be adequately prepared for the enormous meals they were about to consume. Each station were distinct enough for anyone to be either reeled in or ignored, depending on their food preference. This night I specifically got from their sashimi, tempura, dim sum, and desserts sections.

First plate is my ebi tempura and sio mai with a slice of pizza on the side, doesn’t make sense I know! Haha! I usually go for sashimi now but this plate is more steak with some gravy and I’m not so much of a beef person, I was just intrigued with people lining up for this one and dumping gravy all over it haha! Taste was nice, but I didn’t get second servings of it. I feel like I shouldn’t really be invited in buffets because my third plate is my dessert plate already, just stating their infamous cookie and got 2 scoops of ice cream. I think my cookie’s better. Haha!

Verdict: 2.5/5
Tempura was ok, it's not great, but it’s readily available for everyone and you don’t have to squat in front of the tray to wait for it, unlike most buffets. Sashimi had nice cuts and slices, no bones. It’s a so so experience for me. It’s a little pricy at 1400 per head.

Lugang Café

On the heels of that recent post, we’re going to review another restaurant known to serve Xiao Long Bao. Located at 3F Mega D of SM Megamall, Lugang Café is a Chinese restaurant aiming to serve the best Taiwanese cuisine. This is the first branch that was opened outside China and will probably open more soon.

As I was seated on my table, I noticed the interior decor was very posh and sleek, glass ceilings, chandeliers, and walls making the restaurant look bigger than it does. The servers were quick to serve me water and ask for my order. I ordered Oyster Pancake to start. I was a little surprised by the size of it, I was only able to eat 2 slices. The dipping sauce is a little sweet. I prefer not dipping it in and just eating the pancake as it is so as to still taste the oysters.

And then I had of course Xiao Long Bao, and the broth inside did not disappoint. When I poked a hole on the wanton wrapper, the steaming broth came rushing into the spoon, it was threatening to overflow! I had the soup after letting it cool a little but tasted something funny it in. When I had the dumpling, I thought the aftertaste came from the filling itself. It was edible, I finished all 8 of them, but there’s just something funny in it I can’t put my finger on.

Verdict: 2.5/5
All in all, dining experience wasn’t that bad. They put my leftover oyster pancake in a nice takeaway box, too. But I wished then that I had a fusion of XLB, filling from Din Tai Fung and amount of soup from Lugang Café. Now that will be a nice treat.

Din Tai Fung

I remember the very first time I had Xiao Long Bao, I ate the whole dumpling without consuming the (hot) broth first. So yeah, not reading instructions, and I had no choice but to burn my tongue and throat with the scalding soup inside the dumpling. Couldn’t help but tear up on that one, too. Lesson learned from 8 maybe 9 years ago (sheesh, that suddenly made me feel so old!).

Years after that unfortunate incident, I got to try it again in Vancouver and couldn’t really remember the soup from the dumpling, maybe because of the sheer amount of food me and poeticnook had *ugh* So I tried again with Din Tai Fung this time, located at G/F SM Megamall, with the hopes of liking this dish at all. I ordered their cold appetizer dish, Chicken Scallions, to start. And I really liked it! For a single order, they had two rolls of cold chicken, cut in 4 pieces, and donned with a very generous garnish of chopped scallions. Yum!

Maybe it was the hot soup that made its mark on me, but I really think proper Xiao Long Bao have like at least half of its filling liquid, making the wonton wrapper sag a little at the bottom, trying to contain all the liquid in. So I was a bit disappointed when I poked the dumpling, the soup that oozed from it was not overflowing. It was literally barely there. I mean, look at this sad, sad XLB. I really had to squeeze at it and push it to the side so I can see the little broth it had inside. Sadness. The taste of the filling was good though, such a waste. The broth tasted good too, there just wasn't enough to make it quite a treat.

Verdict: 2/5
Considering they are best known for their XLBs, I was quite disappointed with their dish. The only saving grace for this restaurant was the appetizer I ordered. I loved the Chicken Scallions so much, I didn’t notice I had scallions on my teeth the whole time! I keep wondering if I smiled at all during the walk from the restaurant to the office. Yikes! The servers were friendly and attentive. It gets really busy during peak hours, so stay away during those hours, there’s a long line of chairs in the waiting section.

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.

N: 3/5

Tenya Tempura Tendon

Before writing this review, let me say this out right to save you the time, Tenya Tempura Tendon what? What’s this restaurant and what did I get there? I literally couldn’t remember a thing. So I had to backtrack my Instagram account (didn’t find anything there, uh-oh) and emails to get some clues. And I found it finally.

Tucked away in the “food avenue” of SM Southmall in Las Piñas city, this restaurant served tempura mainly. My parents love fried food, so in we went. Their menu had a very nice cover about how successful this restaurant was in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines, looked promising. The server took our orders and went away.

My parents had the Classic Tendon (had tiger prawns, green beans, and sweet potato rempura) and All-Star Tendon (which had everything from tiger prawns, squid, salmon, kani, green beans, and mushroom tempura). I tried one item from either plates and was disappointed with the batter, they lacked the crispiness in my opinion. Like it was left standing on the counter for a while.

I ordered the Spicy Salmon Maki and I was excited on what spin they will bring to this dish, knowing that they’re a tempura and not a maki place. Will it have crunch inside when you bite on your maki? Little crunchy balls of wasabi for that extra spicy kick? Excitement died that when the server gave me a dish I didn’t order, apparently he got my order wrong, so yes, I had to wait for another 10mins or so for my food. When the right dish came, well, nothing much to see there. Bits of tempura batter was placed on top of my rather ordinary maki. Uh-huh.

Verdict: 1/5 
The service was terrible and painfully slow. The food wasn’t that great, because what can you really do with a tempura? Nothing aside from delivering a perfectly crispy tempura batter, that is. Sadly, this restaurant didn’t deliver anything worth noting.

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