Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Pao!

Latest steam delights from Chowking.

Cute-looking siopao teeming with delicious filling: the Panda Pao is filled with a generous goo of semi-sweet, dark chocolate! YUMMY! The Piggy Pao has the restaurant's classic asado filling. It's savory and meaty.

A piece costs Php 39. A box of 3 costs Php 117.

Try the Happy Pao and judge for yourself.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mango Chocolate

Some sweet treats from Cebu, y'all!

Mango Chocolate! Dried mangoes with tips covered with semi-sweet chocolate.

Are they good? Well, not really. The mangoes are bland. The chocolate, ordinary. Together, forgettable.

Try them and judge for yourself.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New side dishes from McDonalds

Look who's copying Jollibee...LOL!

McDonalds presents two items to its fare: Cheesy Mashed Potato and Mac N Cheese.

The Cheesy Mashed Potato (Php 29) is very tasty; it's oozing with cheese flavor. It is smooth; too smooth actually that we believe it is instant mashed potato (powder form).

Then, the Mac N Cheese (Php 39) features elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, smothered with cheese sauce. It's bursting with cheese flavor, teeming in fact that it's bordering on salty.

These two are being partnered with McDonalds's fried chicken.

Try them and judge for yourself.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Food Trip Rice Bowls

KFC presents the newest addition to its chicken choices: the Food Trip Rice Bowls, featuring Spanish Salpicao and Japanese Teriyaki. Basically, they're bowls of rice, topped with Fun or Hot Shots, then smothered with your sauce of choice. 

Are they good? Well, considering KFC is a FAST FOOD joint, the rice bowls don't taste bad. The flavors are authentic enough (again, for a fast food place). The sauces are just a little, just a little, salty. But the salpicao has real hints of sautéed garlic flavor, and the teriyaki has hints of that sweet-gingery-liquor taste of true teriyaki. Also, the sauces have good consistency.

The slaw that comes with the Japanese Teriyaki Rice Bowl is a good side and provides balance to the meal (tempers the saltiness). The mushrooms that come with Spanish Salpicao seem to be straight from the can. If they were sautéed or cooked with the sauce, they would taste better. What we really like though is the brown-colored rice; it's tasty, really tasty.

 A serving of a Food Trip Rice Bowl costs Php 90.

Try and judge for yourself.

First bowl at Ippudo

We were in Mega Fashion Hall one morning and we chanced upon the newly opened Ippudo, a famous restaurant known for its Hakata (milky pork broth with thin noodles) ramen. It was pretty early, so we didn't have to line up for several minutes to get inside the restaurant.

The place is classy and beautifully decorated. The colors and structures appear solid and strong, but not imposing. The dining table is spacious, and the seats are comfortable. It's a little noisy though because of the overly busy staff.

We tried three dishes: the Shiromaru Motoaji, the Ippudo Pork Bun, and the Hakata Meshi. For our drinks, we asked for the complimentary green tea.

The Shiromaru Motoaji (Php 375) is Ippudo's classic and basic, Hakata-style ramen variant. It has thin noodles (the hardness depends on the customer's preference), pork loin pieces, bean sprouts, kikurage, and spring onions, all swimming in a milky broth. It tastes OK: the broth is not salty and doesn't get saltier as it becomes cold (unlike the one in Ikkoryu Fukuoka). We however doubt if the broth was made through a long process of boiling and simmering. Also, we wish it was thicker. The noodles are fresh, as well as the crisp bean sprouts and kikurage. The pork loin is delicious, slightly sweet and juicy. All in all though, we don't think the ramen is the best one out there. There's something lacking in it, something that will punctuate the taste and make it great.

The Ippudo Pork Bun (Php 100), dubbed as a favorite in the US. It features a soft steamed bun (pao) filled with a chunk of chashu (braised pork belly) and cabbage, smothered with mayonnaise and the restaurant's original sauce. Again, nothing great. The chashu is not flavorful and juicy enough to be a must-eat (Hanamaruken Ramen's is much better.) Also, there's too much mayo in our bun that it drowns the taste of the meat and the sauce. All in all, this dish tastes ordinary, making us wonder what the Americans like about it.

Then, the Hakata Meshi (Php 250): Japanese rice topped with chashu, roe, shredded omelette, and nori, flavored with mayonnaise and Ippudo's original sauce. This one's OK; all the ingredients complement each other, creating an amply satisfying dish. If the chashu were a tad sweeter though, the dish would be more delightful to eat; some sweetness could provide good contrast to the saltiness of the sauce and fishy flavors of the roe and nori.

The green tea is good. It's authentic, woodsy, and earthy. It cleanses the palate really well.

Considering the taste and serving size of the food, we find the prices just a tad too much. By the way, there's a 5% service charge.

Our server, who was actually the manager, was friendly and accommodating, although too eager at times to please us.


Ippudo is on the 3rd flood of Mega Fashion Hall.


Some of us were able to come back in the afternoon to try more dishes: the Crispy Corn and the Curry Cheese Harumaki.

The Crispy Corn (Php 130): deep-fried corn seasoned with seaweed and paprika. Good contrast of flavors: hint of sweetness from the paprika and some earthiness from the seaweed. The batter is also light and the dish is not too oily.

It is overpriced though. It is just one cob of corn, after all...

Finally, the Curry Cheese Harumaki (Php 190): spring rolls filled with minced pork, curry, and cheese, The rolls come with a curry dip. This one is for those who like curry, although the curry taste is a little subtle. The rolls are fried well and are not too oily. But, just like the corn, this dish is overpriced.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First taste at St. Marc Café

A known Japanese coffee shop opens a branch in SM's Mega Fashion Hall: St. Marc Café. We heard the starting buzz around this place so we decided to drop by and give their food a try.

We ordered three bestsellers (according to the cashier): a Small serving of Vietnam Coffee, a piece of Chococro (the place's signature treat), and a cup of the Kyoto Delight.

The Vietnam Coffee (Php 120, Small) was too bitter, making the drink too overpowering to be enjoyed.

The Chococro (Php 55) was a small croissant with chocolate filling. The croissant was a little bland, and unevenly baked; one half was a tad hard, it felt like eating otap, while the other half was soft. The chocolate filling was OK; it had good thickness and color. The taste? It wasn't bad, but its flavor was not great enough to be unforgettable.

The Kyoto Delight (Php 250) was a dessert item with vanilla ice cream, green tea ice cream, cubes of sponge cake, cornflakes two kinds of mochi, and red bean paste. We had mixed reactions about this one. The vanilla ice cream was too sweet, but the green tea one had authentic flavor. The red bean paste was OK, delicious actually. The bigger mochi, the brown one, had a weird texture, while the white one was not cooked fully, hilaw sa loob. As for the sponge cake and cornflakes, well, they were ordinary.

Price: Considering taste and serving size, prices are reasonable.

Place: Decor was classy and stylish. The place though is a little dark.

Service: The waiters need to train more. Some were slow, some were clueless.

Based on our first-time experience, we say we don't mind not coming back to this place soon.

St. Marc Café is on the first level of the Mega Fashion Hall.